7. Men’s basketball reaches its first Sweet 16 since 2014
Despite all the accomplishments of the season, the Tennessee Vols men’s basketball program still finished No. 2 in the SEC regular season standings, as SEC Tournament runner-ups, and as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. So they continued to come just short.
But they took advantage of a solid draw still to make history. A Sweet 16 appearance in men’s basketball is always a big accomplishment. The Vols had only done that six times in school history before this year.
In fact, in 2018, they missed out with a second-round loss to Loyola-Chicago on a last-second shot. And they were a No. 3 seed then. Also, in Bruce Pearl’s first year, they lost in the round before the Sweet 16 as a No. 2 seed to the No. 7 seed Wichita State Shockers.
Simply put, Sweet 16 appearances cannot be taken for granted. And that was certainly the case here. In both opening weekend games, the Vols blew big leads to trail at one point. They managed to pull away from Colgate in the first round, but in the second round against the Iowa Hawkeyes, they blew a 25-point lead and were sent to overtime.
In overtime, Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams and Kyle Alexander were all in foul trouble. But Williams led the way in the paint and helped UT dominate. As a result, they pulled away for a thrilling OT victory. A heartbreaking loss to the Purdue Boilermakers the next week kept them out of the Elite 8. But they still had an epic run and earned a spot on this list.