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NCAA Match will boil down to those 10 groups — and, sure, Tennessee is amongst them

Defense wins championships, or so we’re told. Not sure how far back it goes, but I do know defense is not mentioned specifically in John Wooden’s pyramid of success.However, we can all agree that you have to play SOME defense if you’re going to be a team capable of winning the men’s basketball national championship.Which

NCAA Match will boil down to those 10 groups — and, sure, Tennessee is amongst them

Protection wins championships, or so we’re advised. Undecided how far again it goes, however I do know protection shouldn’t be talked about particularly in John Wooden’s pyramid of success.

Nonetheless, we will all agree that you need to play SOME protection if you happen to’re going to be a crew able to profitable the lads’s basketball nationwide championship.

Which brings us to the Tennessee Volunteers. Man, do the Vols play protection. Statistically, one of the best in the nation. Scoring protection (56.3), third within the nation; area purpose proportion protection (35.5), second; scoring margin (15.0), third; 3-point proportion protection (24.7), first.

Championship statistics? Perhaps. However there are doubts born of latest outcomes, though I’d argue the 2 losses final week to Vanderbilt and Missouri could possibly be considerably attributed to unhealthy luck within the ultimate seconds. It didn’t reduce coach Rick Barnes’ optimism. He thinks his crew goes to be OK and that was verified with the Vols’ victory over top-ranked Alabama on Wednesday night time. They need to concern no crew.

Nonetheless, the sudden loss to Vanderbilt; an unsightly, shut win over Auburn; a loss to the last word underachievers, Kentucky; a loss at Florida, all of those video games may be traced to poor offensive efficiency. The Vols shot a mixed 34% in these video games.

OPINION:Tennessee basketball still has what it takes to stop anyone, even No. 1 Alabama | Estes

So, what’s it going to be for the Vols? Within the NCAA Match, one night time just like a type of 4 video games would imply elimination. They’ve been extremely ranked, excessive sufficient to be thought of worthy of a possible nationwide champion. Will they play like that for six consecutive video games in March?

It is a key query and possibly reserve guard Tyreke Key may be an answer to the offensive issues. With Wednesday night time’s victory as the newest proof, I believe you need to take into account Tennessee to be one of many few groups able to profitable the NCAA Match. In a couple of weeks, 68 groups will likely be positioned within the bracket, however just a few have the flexibility to win all of it. Proper now, you need to take into account the Vols amongst these groups. For Vols followers, right here’s hoping Barnes solves his crew’s offensive issues to allow them to make a protracted, postseason run.

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Realistically, these are the opposite groups that are able to profitable the NCAA Match (in alphabetical order).


The Crimson Tide is the other of Tennessee, an incredible, typically spectacular offensive crew that may simply overwhelm opponents. The Tide can also be a wonderful defensive crew, and it has the very best freshman within the nation in forward Brandon Miller, who has the look of the subsequent Kevin Durant. Their steadfast reliance on the 3-point shot might harm them in the event that they immediately have an terrible taking pictures sport.


The Wildcats are additionally an incredible offensive crew, averaging 83 factors per sport, however they’re led by an enormous man, 6-foot-11 Azuolas Tubelis. The one draw back is the Wildcats are typically careless with the basketball.


The Cougars drive opponents into their defensive vise and simply hold turning the deal with. Groups just about hand over after some time, which is why their margin of victory is without doubt one of the greatest within the nation. They aren’t a pretty offensive crew however make up for it with relentless offensive rebounding. You can apply the identical negatives to the Cougars that you’d to Tennessee. If these groups ever met, the primary to 40 would win.


The Hoosiers underachieved for a part of the season however then two issues occurred. First, coach Mike Woodson determined to drive feed Trayce Jackson-Davis and the large man has been one of many prime gamers within the nation, unstoppable within the low submit. Secondly, freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino matured right into a top-notch participant. So, this can be a totally different crew than it was in December.


The Jayhawks received final season’s match however have had some slumps this season. Neglect that. This can be a championship roster with nice inside/out choices in massive man Jalen Wilson and guards Dajuan Harris. Plus, freshman Gradey Dick has turn into a key participant.


Within the NIL period, that is the very best crew cash should purchase (OK, that’s a joke however google Miami and NIL for details). All that apart, the Hurricanes have stability and play with excessive depth, particularly guard Isaiah Wong. The Hurricanes aren’t massive, which might harm them, however they’ll be ignored in most individuals’s brackets.


The previous No. 1 crew within the nation with the most probably nationwide participant of the 12 months in 7-4 Zach Edey. He’s been a revelation, affecting the sport at each ends of the court docket. What’s key for the Boilermakers is their freshmen backcourt, Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer. They’ve performed with the poise of sixth-year seniors with two further Covid seasons, and that has to proceed.


The Bruins are a veteran crew that has performed a difficult schedule and some of the gamers had been members of the 2021 Closing 4 crew, most notably level guard Tyger Campbell and ahead Jaime Jaquez Jr. They know what it takes. David Singleton, who was not an enormous a part of that crew, has emerged as a steadying affect.

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Dishonest didn’t assist get coach Sean Miller to the Closing 4 when he was at Arizona. It could be superb if he did it in his first season again in Cincinnati. What’s essential in that effort can be the return of huge man Zach Freemantle for an harm. With out him, they’re not getting there.

Who’s lacking (and why)

Texas (don’t suppose the elements match collectively accurately); Duke (too younger, too inconsistent); North Carolina (final underachievers, possibly locker room issues); Connecticut (coach’s lack of poise will sabotage them); Gonzaga (overrated all season).

Joe Sullivan may be reached at Observe him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan.

This text initially appeared on Nashville Tennessean: NCAA Tournament will boil down to these 10 teams, including Tennessee

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