Arizona Loss Opens Door for Tennessee to Grab 1-Seed

Tennessee moves up to No. 4 in the AP Poll and could secure the first 1-seed in program history after Arizona's loss to Washington State.
LSU v Tennessee
LSU v Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

The Tennessee Volunteers jump to No. 4 in the updated AP Poll, putting the Vols in the driver's seat to secure their first 1-seed in program history. The Arizona Wildcats might still be considered the fourth-best team in the country, but the Wildcats' 77-74 loss to Washington State has opened the door for Tennessee, Marquette, or even North Carolina to steal the final 1-seed from Arizona.

Arizona's loss to Washington State exposed their offense as the Cougars shut down the Wildcats. Jeff Borzello mentions that Arizona's offensive efficiency numbers are the second worst in conference play. Arizona's worst performance on the offensive end of the court also came at the hands of Washington State. As it sits now, Washington State is the 2-seed for the PAC-12 Tournament, so Arizona might only have to see the Cougars again during the PAC-12 Championship Game.

Marquette is Tennessee's immediate competition for the 1-seed, sitting at 21-6 with six Quad 1 victories. The Golden Eagles still have two matchups against Quad 1 opponents, so they will be looking to jump the Vols if Tennessee slips at some point in the final two weeks of the regular season. Marquette could also jump Tennessee if they upset the UCONN Huskies next week.

North Carolina also looks to sneak into that final 1-seed and jump Tennessee. The Tar Heels could do that if Tennessee comes out flat against Auburn or Alabama, as they are nearly even with Arizona and Marquette. Arizona and North Carolina have the same amount of Quad 1 wins and share a Quad 3 loss each. This is where Tennessee stands out, with zero Quad 3 and 4 losses. Tennessee also stands out over Arizona with one Quad 2 loss compared to Arizona's two Quad 2 losses.

While Tennessee and Arizona sit at 21-6 on the year, Arizona holds the upper hand on the Vols with a 7-4 record against Quadrant 1 teams. Tennessee sits at 4-5 in Quad 1 wins, but a dominant week or two to end the season can change that drastically. Auburn and Alabama are Quad 1 opponents, so the Vols will need to take care of business this week to continue propping up the door for the 1-seed.

Tennessee is about to go through an SEC gauntlet to end the year, and they need to show out if they want to earn a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Vols will face Auburn for their mid-week matchup and head to Alabama on Saturday. If Rick Barnes' Vols can bring the same energy and aggression they brought to their first matchup against Alabama, they could sit in the driver's seat for the final 1-seed in the NCAA tournament.