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It's Sweet 16 Time in Tennessee! Vols-Buckeyes Open Thread

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March 22, 2007, 9:57-ish EST
TV: CBS Sports
Radio:Vol Network
Internet Broadcast: Yahoo!
Phone Broadcast: TeamLine
Live Stats: CSTV GameTracker Live

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5 seed

1 seed

This isn't a breakdown of tonight's game or any kind of significant basketball analysis. That's been done here, and you can get that lots of other places, too. Instead, this is a celebration. No matter what happens tonight, Bruce Pearl has changed Tennessee basketball. And I'm gonna celebrate it.

Don't tell me that Jerry Green did the same thing with Tennessee basketball when he was here. Green took players with just silly amounts of talent and somehow managed to stay out of the way long enough for the team to make the round of 16 in 2000 before leading a monumental gag job in the last eight minutes of what should have been the greatest win in the history of Tennessee basketball. Not that I hold grudges or anything. But the Jerry Green era was characterized by Final-Four talent, Sweet-16 heart, and NIT coaching.

No, what Bruce Pearl has done is something more special. He's taken mostly good, but not necessarily great players and made them into a very good team. In the process, and in short order, he's elevated the national profile of Tennessee basketball. Coach Pearl has been omnipresent in the media this week. If you turned on your TV, you probably saw Bruce Pearl. Same for opening a newspaper or tuning a radio. From the Washington Post to the Woodstock Independent, it's been all Pearl all the time.

Except that it really hasn't been. It's been all Tennessee all the time. Bruce could have used this week for shameless self-promotion, he's certainly had the forum. Instead, he's been promoting UT. Dane Bradshaw agrees:

"When he came here, he was kind of taking over Knoxville, and it has become almost Pearl country," said guard Dane Bradshaw. "But it's not about Bruce. It's about helping others out."
In the interest of brevity, I'll cut the Bruce Pearl Love Fest short here. I think you get the picture. Can Coach Pearl and his team win this game? Sure, they're good enough. If they don't I'll be disappointed for sure, but I'll also be proud of what they did accomplish this season. And that includes the exposure our coach has given to our university all week long.

That being said, GO VOLS! HULK SMASH!