Tennessee Helps SEC to Fourth Tournament Bid

With Commandant Slive and NCAA tournament officials in attendance, Tennessee did its part to help the SEC towards solidifying a fourth tournament bid with its 75-62 loss to Florida. Everything worked according to plan as Tennessee's inside players Wayne Chism and Brian Williams spent much of the night in foul trouble, allowing the Gators to amass a commanding edge in foul shots attempted 24-11. The plan worked to perfection as Florida is now universally seen as being in the tournament barring an unexpected loss...

Oh, forget it. I can't keep a straight face anymore. But after all the conspiracy theories thrown around during football season, did I have you going for even a little bit there?

So yeah. Florida did beat Tennessee 75-62. It's only Billy Donovan's second win over Bruce Pearl during the latter's tenure at Tennessee, and it broke a six game losing streak the Gators had versus the Vols. With Tennessee's two bigs on the bench, Chandler Parsons and Vernon Macklin had big games for UF with 19 points and 13 points, respectively for them and an additional 10 rebounds for Macklin.

Tennessee is still firmly in the tournament, so the only question is what kind of damage to its potential seeding was done. It's also worth noting that the teams have ended up roughly even now.

Tennessee is 20-7 (8-5). Florida is 20-8 (9-4). Both have signature wins, with Tennessee's defeat of Kansas a bit better than Florida's take down of Michigan State. Each has nice other wins, like Memphis and Charlotte for Tennessee and Florida State and Mississippi State for Florida. They each even have forgettable losses, with Florida's one point loss to South Alabama a bit worse than Tennessee's 13 point downer against Georgia.

UT still has the better resume and would be seeded higher if the tourney began today. What will end up the seeding among them for the SEC tournament though? The SEC's tiebreaker looks at division record second if the head-to-head series was tied (and it is). Tennessee sits at 4-5 in SEC East play with only a game versus Kentucky to go. Florida is 3-4 with Georgia, Vandy, and Kentucky still left.

If we assume Kentucky will beat them both (which is fairly safe, though not certain), then Florida would have to go 1-1 against Georgia and Vandy and finish with a 4-6 SEC East record to enact the tiebreaker scenario. They'd be even there, so then we'd have to go one-by-one from the top of the division downward looking at records against those teams. That would give Tennessee the edge thanks to the Vols' 2-0 record versus South Carolina, as compared to Florida's 1-1 mark.

Incidentally, Tennessee has a chance to help the SEC get a fifth bid too. The Volunteers play Mississippi State on March 6.

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