What's next for Tennessee after SEC Tournament upset

Tennessee basketball is preparing for the NCAA Tournament after dropping the ball and being one and done in the SEC Tournament.
SEC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals
SEC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Tennessee basketball's struggles in the postseason started early this season. Typically, we don't see Tennessee struggle to perform until the NCAA Tournament, but the Vols laid an egg in their first and only game in the SEC Tournament, leading to some concern among the Vols and their fans.

With Selection Sunday here, we will learn where the Vols fall and who they will face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite their poor performance in the conference tournament, Tennessee is expected to still be a two-seed.

The big difference could be what region Tennessee is in when the bracket is released. The Vols were expected to be in the West region with Arizona, as both have been competing for the No. 1 seed in that region, with North Carolina behind both programs as the No. 2 seed in the East region.

All of that has changed over the past few days, though. North Carolina won/lost in the ACC Championship, which is enough to move the Tar Heels past Tennessee and Arizona in the bracket. This moves the Vols to the East region in Joe Lunardi's final bracketology.

If Lunardi is correct in his prediction, Tennessee will face 15-seed Fairfield in the first round of this year's NCAA Tournament in Charlotte. While it is almost impossible for Tennessee to play its first weekend outside of Charlotte, there are a few scenarios still at play regarding Tennessee's landing spot.

If Tennessee can take care of business in round one of the tournament, the Vols will face the winner of Nebraska and Colorado. If the Vols can make it to the second weekend of the tournament, they could meet Duke or Colgate in the tournament again for a chance to play UCONN, Kansas, or even South Carolina.  

Lunardi also has eight SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament, the second-most behind the Big 12 with nine teams in the tournament. To think Tennessee won a championship in a conference with eight tournament teams is a great reminder of what this year's team can do when everything clicks.

For Tennessee to make a deep run and potential Final Four appearance, they will have to go through the defending National Champions. The UCONN Huskies sit atop the East region and will come into the tournament with a chip on their shoulder if they are not the No. 1 overall ranked team in the tournament.

Next. This year is Rick Barnes’s best chance and biggest challenge. This year is Rick Barnes’s best chance and biggest challenge. dark

The Vols have a lot to play for from here on out. It's win or go home, and they have been playing lackluster basketball over the past week. Rick Barnes and the Vols will need to figure out a plan to improve their performance and survive the challenges they will face on the court over the next few weeks.