No. 13 ranked Tennessee (25-8) dropped the SEC Championship to Kentucky at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Vols found little time to dwell on the defeat as they looked ahead to Selection Sunday.
The Volunteers drew a No. 3 seed from the NCAA selection committee and will face the No. 14 seed Wright State Raiders (25-9) at 12:40 p.m. ET on TruTV. Tennessee will tip-off in Dallas in the South Region of the bracket.
This appearance marks the Vols’ first in the tournament since 2014. Meanwhile, the Raiders enter for their first appearance in 11 years. Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes knows his team played hard to get in the tournament all season long. However, he also knows not to take an appearance for granted.
“Hats off to our team. They believed they could do it, they did it,” Barnes said. “Now we are in the big event, you go one game at a time.”
The Selection Sunday anticipation came and went quickly for the orange-and-white. They were announced in the first region of the bracket. Barnes’ last two seasons in Knoxville proved everything but exciting around this time of year.
“(It’s) been a long time. I go back to that first year, guys came in and bought in to it and we knew we were shorthanded,” Barnes said. “Last year we were in a position, couldn’t finish it … This will be a new experience for them.”
This will be a new experience for not only Barnes’ squad, but Wright State Head Coach Scott Nagy. His team looks for its first ever win in the NCAA Tournament.
Preview of Wright State
Nagy and the Raiders won 25 games this season on their way to the Horizon League Championship. The matchup could be like looking in the mirror for Barnes – Nagy’s philosophy matches his own.
The Raiders pride themselves on defense and playing inside-out. Wright State finished its season hot, railing off four-straight wins and winning eight out of its last 10 games.
Nagy’s marquee season win came on the road at Georgia Tech, 85-81. Senior guards Grant Benzinger and Justin Mitchell lead the Raiders. The two combine for 25.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. Freshman center Loudon Love brings a down-low presence for Wright State averaging 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics