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March Sadness: Tennessee Basketball Denied NCAA Tournament Bid

Were the Volunteers cheated out of an NCAA bid?

The Tennessee Volunteers were left on the outside looking in for the second year in a row as the NCAA Tournament bracket was released on Selection Sunday. 

Tennessee (20-12 overall, 11-7 in the SEC) had an impressive 13-3 record when it played at home, with quality wins including Wichita State, Kentucky, Florida, and Missouri. All of these teams went on to get bids for the 2013 NCAA Tournament except UK, which is a number one need in the NIT.

When the bracket was released and Tennessee wasn’t included, Vols students and fans reacted on Twitter:

Tennessee's performance in away games may have been the reason the Vols weren't invited to the big dance. The team's struggles were mainly on the road this season, as it finished 4-7 in away games including a one-point loss to Georgetown. Other losses were at Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Georgia.

Highlights from Tennessee's season included a blow out of the Kentucky Wildcats at Thompson Boling Arena in February. The Vols defeated the Wildcats by a score of 88-58, the biggest victory Tennessee has ever had over Kentucky. UT also defeated a ranked Florida Gators team, giving head coach Cuonzo Martin a 3-0 record against the Gators.

Another highlight was Tennessee’s regular season finale win at home against the Missouri Tigers. Many, including the team itself, believed that after the Vols defeated Missouri they were sure to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

They traveled to Nashville as the No. 5 seed in the SEC tournament, where they defeated Mississippi State in their first game by a score of 69-53.

The day after their win over Mississippi State, Tennessee fell to Alabama for the second time this season by a score of 58-48. After this loss, fans started to worry whether the team would make it to the big dance.

When the NCAA Tournament bracket came out, head coach Cuonzo Martin was upset not only that Tennessee didn’t make it, but that only three SEC teams were selected to play in the tournament as well.

“I think that’s unfortunate. With a league of this caliber only getting three teams in, I don’t understand that. This is a very talented league,” said Martin.

WUTK Sports at The University of Tennessee spoke to Martin on Selection Sunday and tweeted his comments.

Tennessee was selected as a 2-seed in the National Invitational Tournament and will battle Mercer University on Wednesday Mar. 20 at Thompson Boling Arena. Tennessee junior guard Jordan McRae expressed his thoughts on missing the tournament and playing in the NIT on Twitter.