As we noted earlier the Tennessee Volunteers were left out of the NCAA tournament. As a result the Vols will take part in the NIT.
Tennessee, a number two seed, will open the tournament in Knoxville against the seventh seeded Mercer Bears on Wednesday night at 8:00 pm est.
Mercer finished the regular season with a 23-11 record. The Bears lost in the finals of the Atlantic Sun conference final to Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.
Getting past Mercer will be no easy task for the Vols. Mercer lost to Georgia 58-49 in Athens on December 18th. The Bears then played Alabama four days later in Tuscaloosa, beating the Crimson Tide 66-59.
Travis Smith is the Bear’s leading scorer this season, with 13.5 points a game.
If the Vols are able to make it past Mercer, they will take on the winner of BYU (21-11) and Washington (18-15).
While the Vols are definitely disappointed to not be in the dance, they still have basketball left to be played. Head coach Cuonzo Martin will have to get his team mentally ready to take on Mercer.
The sting of not making the tournament won’t go away anytime soon, no matter how great the Vol’s performance in the NIT, but the Vols will have to put their best foot forward in the NIT.
Tennessee and Mercer can be seen on ESPNU on Wednesday night at 8:00 pm est.