Tennessee started the season a little better than expected, went through a dismal December, and now have seemingly began a bounceback in the opening stages of SEC play.
The Volunteers had to replace four key starters from last year’s team, which quickly turned into five after the injury to Lamonte Turner. With a totally new group on the floor, Tennessee’s December slump was understandable. But Rick Barnes and his coaching staff strung two blowout wins together against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, then gave Kansas all they could handle on the road last weekend.
There’s now some new life in regards to Tennessee’s NCAA Tournament chances. Sitting at 12-7, the Volunteers will have every opportunity to string wins together and place themselves into the big dance.
Taking a look around some NCAA Tournament projections, Tennessee sits squarely on the bubble at this point. Here’s exactly where they are.
NBC: 6th team out
ESPN: 5th team out
CBS: 1st team out
SBNation: 9th team out
So while Tennessee has clear work to do, things aren’t quite as dire as they seemed after Tennessee was blown out by Georgia just a couple of weeks ago. After tonight’s game against Texas A&M, the Vols will embark on a vital stretch of games in their next four matchups.
Trips to Mississippi State and Alabama will be massive moments for Tennessee’s resume. Kentucky and Arkansas at home to follow also provide the Vols with big opportunities.
Can Tennessee take advantage? If Yves Pons and John Fulkerson keep going at this pace, they certainly can.