The Loss the Vols Couldn’t Afford

Unless you are a part of either the Tennessee Volunteer or South Carolina Gamecock fan base, Saturday’s matchup was a TOUGH game to watch. For these 2 teams, this game was an absolute must win, if they even want to be considered on Selection Sunday.

It will be especially brutal for Tennessee fans when they go back and look at these stats. They will sit and wonder “How did we Butch Jones that game?”. Well, let me tell you.

  • Field Goal Percentage
    • Tennessee- 42.7%
    • South Carolina – 40%
  • Free Throw Percentage:
    • Tennessee – 60.7%
    • South Carolina – 59.4%
  • Assists:
    • Tennessee – 15
    • South Carolina – 6

None of these are masterful outputs. To be honest, these are kind of ugly stats, but winning those stat battles, usually lead to winning games. 

But this one stat, is where the story is really told on how the Vols may have lost their NCAA tourney hopes.

  • TURNOVERS
    • Tennessee – 20
    • South Carolina 14

Throughout the entire season, the Vols have struggled handling the ball. They are 7th in the SEC in total turnovers committed. Yes, Tennessee is actually number one in the SEC with a 1.1 Assist to Turnover ratio. BUT, that is partially due to the fact their style play is much more team oriented than most. And that is due to them really not having anyone who can go one on one, and go get a bucket. Sometimes Tennessee will find a match-up that works for a short period of time, but no one can just take over a game offensively.

And the guys you would think should be able to take over Bowden and Vescovi. They have the ball in their hands more than anyone else on the team. Fulkerson plays are mostly from passes from those two. These two go, as the other goes. It’s as if they’re somewhat in sync, good or bad. 

Here are the good and the bad of the last 4 games.

Good

– Kentucky: Both scored 18 points

– Arkansas: 

   – Vescovi: 18 Points, 8 Assists  

   – Bowden had 16 points, 3 Assists & 6 Rebounds

Bad

– Alabama: 

    – Vescovi: 8 points on (2-15) shooting

    – Bowden did score 20, but on 5-17 shooting and 0-6 from the three point line

And to steer back to South Carolina

    – Vescovi: 7 Points on (2-8) shooting, 5 Assists, but 4 Turnovers

   – Bowden: 5 Points on (1-7) shooting, 2 assists and 2 turnovers

You can’t win a game with your two primary ball handlers both playing poorly. 


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This South Carolina loss has probably pushed this Vols team out of the conversation of Last 4 In. A win at South Carolina would have been what the committee calls a Quadrant 1 win. South Carolina was a top 75 team on the road and probably the best or “easiest” chance to get Quadrant 1 win for the Vols.

A Quadrant 1 wins mean a lot when it comes to choosing who is the most deserving team. With this wide open year in college basketball, it has created a bunch of teams who have various cases, of why they should get in. So the hiHere’s a little break down of the quadrants and the respective NCAA NET rankings that count as that quadrant. 

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240

Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353

Remaining Vols Schedule:

  1. Vanderbilt (146):  Quadrant 3    (Home 76-160)
  2. @Auburn (25):  Quadrant 1    (Away 1-75)
  3. @Arkansas (48):  Quadrant 1    (Away 1-75)
  4. Florida (35):  Quadrant 2    (Home 31-75)
  5. @Kentucky (24):  Quadrant 1    (Away 1-75)
  6. Auburn (25):  Quadrant 1    (Home 1-30)

So, looking at the gauntlet that is left for the Vols, getting a quadrant 1 win has to come on the road against a top 25 team, or an Arkansas team that is fighting for its tournament hopes too. Not ideal for a team, that has to win out. For this Tennessee team to make the Tournament, they almost have to win out. That will get them to 20 wins, maybe they can get away with 19 wins, with one of those losses being at Auburn or at Kentucky. 

From NBC Sports and ESPN, the Vols aren’t even in the hunt in the SEC. So they have a ton of work to do. Tennessee’s best win right now is @Alabama. Alabama is ranked 36th in the NET. So it’s a nice win, but it is not a significant win. Auburn and Kentucky wins could be noted as significant wins. While Florida and @Arkansas, are must wins, to boost the Vols ahead of them in the rankings and systematically, with a head to head wins. 

The Vols have a tough 6 game stretch to end the season, but it is a blessing in disguise, if they figure out a way to click on all cylinders. 

They have the 18th toughest Non-conference Strength of Schedule and the 37th overall.

But with inconsistent guard play and no real leadership, it’s gonna be tough on Rick Barnes and Company to find a way in the tournament. 

As always guys and gals, I appreciate the read.

Chase

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