DALLAS — Tennessee basketball opens its first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years after a dream season few saw coming.
It’s now a matter of “win or go home,” and Coach Rick Barnes has seen to it the Vols understand that sense of urgency entering the next game with Horizon League Tournament champ Wright State.
Tennessee lost a heartbreaking SEC tourney title game on account of two missed box-outs, and Barnes saw to it that players learned a lesson. The Vols had beaten Kentucky twice during the regular season, but not with a tourney title on the line.
The No. 13-ranked Vols, the SEC regular-season co-champs and SEC Tourney runners-up, finished with the SEC Coach of the Year, the SEC Player of the Year and the SEC Sixth Man of the Year.
“They’ve had a lot of challenges this year and been put in different stations,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes, who’s making his 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance. “This is another step for them, and we’ll see what we can do with it.”
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale has already endorsed Barnes as his national coach of the year, but the team clearly wants more.
Vols junior forward Admiral Schofield, who averaged 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in being named to the All-SEC Tournament team, said the players realize the NCAA tourney is a big step .
“It’s always a great accomplishment to be in the NCAA tournament, especially for a program like us that hasn’t been there in a couple years and doesn’t really have a rich basketball tradition,” Schofield said. “But we have had some big names that have come through our program.
“This is a great way to establish our program.”
Tennessee-Wright State basketball: Game info, details
- Time: Tipoff is at 12:40 p.m. ET, March 15, 2018
- Location: America Airlines Center, Dallas
- Records: Tennessee 25-8; Wright State 25-9
How can I watch the Tennessee basketball game?
The game can be watched on TruTV
How can I live stream the Tennessee basketball game?
The game can be seen on TruTV online stream
How can I listen to the Tennessee basketball game?
The game will air on the Vol Sports Network
Projected Tennessee basketball starting lineup
- Point guard: Sophomore Jordan Bone
- Shooting guard: Sophomore Jordan Bowden
- Small forward: Junior Admiral Schofield
- Power forward: Sophomore Grant Williams
- Power forward: Junior Kyle Alexander
Tennessee basketball things to know
• Tennessee’s 25 wins this season are the fourth-most in school history
• Coach Rick Barnes is one of only 13 coaches to lead four different programs to the NCAA Tournament (Providence, Clemson, Texas, Tennessee).
• In the last 10 years, only two SEC programs have won more NCAA Tournament games than Tennessee — which has 8 NCAA wins — Kentucky (26) and Florida (16).
What’s next for Tennessee basketball?
The Vols will advance to the Round of 32 with a win and face the winner of the South Region game between No 6-seed Miami and No. 11 seed Illinois-Chicago