Tennessee junior guard Jordan McRae (Photo: Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports)
Record: 19-11 (11-7 in SEC)
Key Wins: Wichita State, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri
The Tennessee Volunteers have won eight of their last nine games and currently are the first team projected out of the NCAA tournament.
The Volunteers are going to need all the help they can get. They need to hope that teams like Virginia and Kentucky fall in their first games this week.
Tennessee has become a tough team down the stretch with the leadership of junior guard Jordan McRae, sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes and junior guard Trae Golden.
McRae has been hot by averaging an astounding 25.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in his last six games.
Stokes has been on fire as well. In 10 of his last 13 games, he has recorded double-doubles. He is averaging 12.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season.
Golden, like McRae and Stokes, has played well. Golden dropped 32 points on Texas A&M on Feb. 23, and scored 21 points on Auburn and 12 points on Missouri this past week.
Tennessee will have an advantage going into the SEC Tournament because of the tournament being played in Nashville. That will give the Vols more of a home-court advantage with their fanbase in attendance.
The Volunteers need to win against South Carolina or Mississippi State in the second round, then take down an Alabama team that is also on the bubble in the quarterfinals.
Two wins could do it for the Volunteers, but they will still be sitting there with their fingers crossed on Selection Sunday.
A win against Florida in the semifinals would lock everything up and put them in the NCAA tournament field for good.
Expect Tennessee to make a run in the SEC tournament and make the NCAA tournament.