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Arkansas, shmarkansas. It's just another away game: Vols-Road open thread

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Tennessee Logo

February 24, 2007, 1:00 p.m. EST
Bud Walton Arena


TV: LF Sports
Radio: Vol Network
Internet Broadcast: Yahoo!
Live Stats: CSTV GameTracker Live

Alabama Logo

19-9, 7-6
NR

59-19
PWNS

Willie Nelson famously sang "I can't wait to get on the road again." Well, that Willie Nelson's full of #@$&, man. Then again, the Redheaded Stranger never had to play on the road in the SEC, so maybe I should cut him some slack.

Anyway, I'm not going to waste any words on Arkansas. That's no disrespect to the Hogs, but being that this is a road game and UT is 0-6 against The Road in SEC games this year, there's really no reason to spill a lot of verbiage on this game today. In fact, as you can see above, The Road has pwned the SEC this year, racking up a 59-19 record for the home teams in league games this year. And if you're wondering, that's not a happy little sunshine in the graphic above, that's a road leading straight into a fiery death, as it has been all season long. We might as well be playing the '96 Chicago Bulls. If you want a preview of the Razorbacks, get it here or here. But not here.

What I will talk about is something that has been a little bit of a hot topic around here of late: whether or not to consider Tennessee a bubble team for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament. I've been wanting to read the opinions of people who might really know what they're talking about when it comes to such matters, and in a timely manner, Rivals.com has broken down bubble teams into three categories: "Looking good", "On the fence", and "Need help now." At first, I didn't see Tennessee listed in any of those slots, which I took as a good sign. After looking closer, however, I noticed UT listed as "in similar shape" as the looking good teams.

Unfortunately, the teams on the in similar shape list don't get the breakdown given to the other teams. So I guess I'll have to do it myself. Here's Tennessee's resume for March with three games remaining in the regular season, using the same criteria as the Rivals article (Kenpom.com used for the RPI ranking. Quality wins are home wins vs. teams in the RPI Top 50 and road or neutral-site wins vs. teams in the RPI 100; bad losses are home losses vs. teams outside the RPI Top 50 or road and neutral-site losses vs. teams outside the RPI Top 100.):

Tennessee Volunteers (19-9, 7-6 SEC)
RPI: 15
Quality wins: Memphis, Oklahoma State, Texas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Alabama
Bad losses: @ Auburn
Last 10: 6-4
Remaining: 2/23 @ Arkansas, 2/27 v. Florida, 3/3 @ UGA

So what stands out to me is that even though the Vols have nine losses and six losses in-conference, only one of those Ls is a "bad loss." None of the games left would be a bad loss either, though the sheer number of losses caused by losing all three could create difficulties for the Vols on Selection Sunday. Winning any one of those games would be considered a quality win.

Aw, dang. I guess that means we do have to win one on the road. I guess this is as good a time as any. I take back everything I said about The Road being one-bad-mother-shut-your-mouth-I'm-just-talking-about-The-Road-I-can-dig-it. We can take that weak old Road any time. I hope.

Leave your pre-, in-, and post-game thoughts below.

Go Vols!