NCAA Tournament 2010: Tennessee Vols Making Case For a No. 2 Seed

Joel BarkerSenior Writer IMarch 13, 2010

KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 27: Head coach Bruce Pearl of the Tennessee Volunteers argues a call during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Thompson-Boling Arena on February 27, 2010 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee defeated Kentucky 74-65. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Maybe this article is a tad premature. As I write this it is, after all, 30 minutes until the start of the biggest game of the season for the Tennessee Vols.

A third rematch between Tennessee and Kentucky will determine who plays for the SEC Tournament Championship on Sunday.

If the Vols lose today, they will end up with no worse than a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament. They retain an outside shot at a No. 3 even with a loss to Kentucky.

A win against Kentucky, however, would virtually guarantee a No. 3 seed for the Vols.

Tennessee has already defeated Kentucky and Kansas, both certain No. 1 seeds, during the regular season.

Another win over the Wildcats would definitely pad the Vols' NCAA tournament resume.

But let's go one step further.

A win today over Kentucky followed by a win in the SEC Tournament title game versus the winner of Vanderbilt-Mississippi State could land Tennessee as a solid No. 2 seed.

Tennessee has not won the SEC Tournament since 1979.

Getting around Goliath today will be hard enough, however.

The last time Tennessee played Kentucky the Vols ruled the day. Thanks to a decided home court advantage the Vols pounded Kentucky for much of the day just two weeks ago.

Kentucky erased a 19-point deficit to tie the game up with two minutes to play, but the Vols scored the final nine points to win the game and started their current five-game winning streak.

Just 14 days prior to that game in Knoxville, the Vols played Kentucky at Lexington and actually led for much of the first half. The short-handed Vols eventually lost that game by 11 thanks to John Wall and company.

The rubber match sets up to be quite the barnburner.

A win will potentially setup the Vols for their first SEC Tournament title in 30 years, but more importantly it could earn the Vols their second No. 2 seed in the last three years.