College basketball is a postseason sport. This we know. Every analyst tells us so.
February, no matter how fantastic, is mere prelude to March Madness, which ultimately defines seasons for posterity.
That's all fine and good, but if you're a Tennessee men's basketball fan it's OK to revel in the moment.
It's not only OK, it's encouraged. You never know when a time like this might come back around.
Carpe diem. Seize the day.
Seize nine days while you're at it.
From the 66-62 win at Memphis on Saturday to the Kentucky game and Ernie Grunfeld ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday, it shapes up as an unforgettable week in UT basketball annals.
In between those bookends falls tonight's visit to Vanderbilt. And that might prove to be the toughest assignment of a tough week.
In fact, no slight intended to the Tigers or Wildcats, I'm betting it is.
"Vandy is playing awfully well,'' UT coach Bruce Pearl said Monday, and he meant it.
The Commodores obviously are catching a Tennessee team that has little time to climb down from Cloud Nine.
Memphis was a grand scene, with all the energy of at least an NCAA regional. I surfed the leading sports Internet sites Saturday morning and UT-Memphis was the lead art and/or story on virtually every one: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sportsline, The Sporting News, even the New York Times.
The game itself lived up to every bit of the hype. To escape victorious required phenomenal effort.
News Sentinel TV ace Terry Morrow says the game was a ratings monster, doing a 30.9 household rating. How to translate a 30.9: Hit shows "CSI" or "American Idol" are thrilled with a 13 or 14.
On Monday came the spoils, the confirmation that Tennessee is No. 1 in both polls for the first time in history.
Meanwhile, Pearl and the team have been swamped by congratulations. Pearl said he's heard from Grunfeld, Bernard King, Reggie Johnson, Allan Houston, Mike Jackson and more.
Having cleared so high a hurdle to start the week doesn't necessarily make it easier to get over the remaining ones.
Vanderbilt is 23-4 and perfect in Memorial Gym, a court quite possibly still slippery with Wildcat blood. Kentucky was drawn and quartered by the Commodores on Feb. 12.
If not for the hoopla generated by Memphis and Tennessee's singular seasons, the Commodores would be celebrated widely for what could still turn out to be the best season in school history.
Coach Kevin Stallings isn't complaining about flying a little below the radar.
"Tennessee's had a great year and Memphis has had a great year,'' he said Monday. "They're getting what they deserve.
"I don't feel we're slighted in the least.''
UT begins the week with a two-game lead in the race for an outright SEC regular-season title. But with four remaining games the only thing settled thus far is that the Vols won't be worse than a No. 4 seed in the SEC tournament.
And don't think for a second Kentucky has conceded one bit.
The Wildcats have gathered themselves from an agonizing non-conference start and are 9-3 SEC with a favorable schedule remaining.
"We're not focusing on the SEC tournament or the NCAA tournament,'' Kentucky's Joe Crawford told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "We still have a chance to win the SEC (regular-season title).''
To keep that chance alive, the Cats must win in Knoxville on Sunday. They fell short last year on a night when King's number was retired. With Grunfeld's number headed to the rafters Sunday, it'll be another emotionally charged atmosphere.
What a week. Tennessee will need to empty its bag of tricks to get through intact. Pearl needs two wins from the orange blazer that comes out of the closet this week.
If the Vols are still No. 1 when the next polls come out, it will be proof Tennessee seized not just one big day in Memphis but a whole week.
Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.