This one stat says Tennessee won't win the National Championship

Tennessee basketball's loss to Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament stacks the deck against the Vols in the NCAA Tournament.
Florida Atlantic v Tennessee
Florida Atlantic v Tennessee / Elsa/GettyImages

Tennessee basketball spent one day in Nashville before being eliminated from the SEC Tournament. The Vols will look to rebound after their 73-56 loss to Mississippi State, but it could be difficult given their back-to-back losses.

There's no doubt that Tennessee's losses to Kentucky and Mississippi State were the worst way to start the most important month of basketball. However, the Vols could still put everything together and make a run at the National Championship.

Winning a title won't be easy, though. It takes getting hot at the right time to make the perfect run against some of the best teams in the country. While it is possible, the Vols' loss also marks them with a devastating statistic when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.

No eventual national champion lost its first conference tournament game

In the 2022 NCAA Tournament, the defending national champions, the Baylor Bears, were eliminated in the second round, and No. 2-seed Auburn followed suit. The 2019 LSU Tigers went 16-2 in conference play, lost their first SEC Tournament game, and got bounced in the Sweet 16. In that same year, 31-win Texas Tech lost in the Elite Eight. The 2013 Duke Blue Devils had a little more success, making it to the Elite Eight before being eliminated by Louisville.

While those are only a few examples, there have been 80 total times seeds one through four lost their first conference game. Only four of those teams made the Final Four, and zero have been able to win the National Championship.

It is going to take some grit for the Vols to overcome the challenges they will face in the NCAA Tournament. The Vols can catch fire any given game and use that momentum to go on a run and make their first Final Four appearance in program history.

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We will see where the Vols land in the NCAA Tournament bracket this Sunday when the NCAA will announce seeding and the bracket for this year's March Madness.