The Tennessee Vols started the 2013-14 season believing this season was the year they would finally reverse their postseason fortune under head coach Cuonzo Martin and head to the NCAA Tournament instead of settling for an NIT bid.
Well, the Vols might have squeaked in, but they’re officially in the filed of 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
The Vols (21-12) will play Iowa (20-12) to claim the 11th seed in the Midwest portion of the bracket, and the winner will go on to face the No. 5 seed in the Midwest, Massachussettes.
The Vols are in the Tournament for the first time since the 2010-2011 season, and it is the first NCAA appearance for head coach Cuonzo Martin.
Here is a quick breakdown of the Vols’ upcoming opponent, Iowa:
The Iowa Hawkeyes are a surprisingly efficient offensive team, scoring 82.0 points per game (10th in NCAA), pulling down 40.7 rebounds per game (7th), and dishing out 16.2 assists per game (11th). Compare that to the Vols who have averages of 71.3 points per game, 38.8 rebounds, and 12.6 assists per game.
The Hawkeyes feature a well-balanced team with a good bench. They are led by 6’6″ senior guard Roy Marble, who leads the team with 17.3 points per game and dishes out 3.5 assists per game as well.
While the Vols have bruisers Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes to grab most of the rebounds for the team, Iowa features a more balanced rebounding team and has four guys who average about 5 rebounds per game or better. The Hawkeyes don’t have overwhelming size, and they seem to match up fairly well with the Vols at every position.
Iowa has shot the ball better than the Vols in every category overall this season. They shoot at a 46.5% clip overall from the field, 35.3% from three, and 73.3% from the free throw line.
Iowa is coming in as one of the colder teams of the Tournament and essentially backed their way in. They’ve lost 6 of their last 7 games and were eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament early by Northwestern (14-18). However, that appears to be their only dreadful loss, and they won big games against Ohio State (No. 3 at the time) and Michigan (No. 10 at the time). The majority of their losses came against teams ranked in the top 25.
Other quick NCAA Tournament notes:
The Vols officially played three No. 1 seeds this season. Florida, Wichita State, and Virginia all earned No. 1 seeds in their regions of the Tournament.
Tennessee officially played 6 teams in the NCAA Tournament (Florida, Wichita State, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina State, and Xavier). The Vols were 2-7 against the Tournament teams they played this season.
The SEC sent 3 teams to the Tournament. Florida is the overall No. 1 seed and in the South, Kentucky received the No. 8 seed om the the Midwest, and the Vols will play for the 11th seed in the Midwest as well.
Stats for Iowa via ESPN.com