Shortly after learning its draw for the NCAA tournament, Tennessee opened Sunday night as a favorite for its opening game in Indianapolis. The Vols, who received a No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region, started off as a 7.5-point favorite for their first-round game against No. 12 seed Oregon State, according to William Hill Sportsbook.
The scheduled tipoff time and location for Friday’s game between Tennessee (18-8) and the Beavers (17-12) are expected to be announced later Sunday night. The Vols are coming off a 73-68 loss to Alabama on Saturday in the SEC tournament semifinals at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., where the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide — who also won the league’s regular-season championship — claimed the conference title Sunday with an 80-79 victory over LSU.
Oregon State won three games in as many days to win the Pac-12 Conference tournament. The Beavers finished their surprising run through the tournament with a 70-68 upset of Colorado in the championship game Saturday night in Las Vegas, claiming the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Tennessee’s players and coaches stayed in Nashville on Saturday night and watched the Selection Show on Sunday evening at the team hotel. The team will travel by bus Monday to Indianapolis, where the entire NCAA tournament is scheduled to be played because of COVID-19 protocols.
The First Four will be played Thursday, with the first rounds held Friday and Saturday. The second round will take place Sunday and Monday.
Alongside the Vols and Oregon State in the Midwest Region bracket are No. 4 seed Oklahoma State (20-8) and No. 13 seed Liberty (23-3). Illinois (22-6) is the No. 1 seed in the bracket.
Tournament sites across the Indianapolis area include Purdue’s Mackey Arena, Indiana’s Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium.
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While Tennessee entered Selection Sunday coming off a loss to Alabama, the Vols advanced to the SEC tournament semifinals with a win over Florida in Friday’s quarterfinals, beating the Gators for the second time in six days. With 16:56 remaining in Saturday’s semifinal game, the Vols held a 48-33 lead over Alabama. But Tennessee committed 11 turnovers in the second half and was outscored 40-20 to close the game.
The NET, the formula the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses to seed the 68-team bracket, had the Vols ranked 13th on Saturday — up one spot from No. 14, with a 6-6 record in Quad 1 games and a 2-2 record in Quad 2 games.
Tennessee’s best wins this season, according to the NET ratings, came against No. 11 Kansas, No. 14 Arkansas and No. 15 Colorado. Tennessee also has a pair of recent wins over No. 31 Florida.
The Vols are ranked No. 20 overall in the KenPom.com ratings, with the No. 4-ranked adjusted defensive efficiency. They’re also ranked No. 71 in adjusted offensive efficiency.