Rejection Sunday: Vols left out of NCAA tournament, receive No. 2 seed in NIT

Tennessee guards Jordan McRae, right, and Quinton Chievous react after Alabama defeated Tennessee in an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament on Friday, March 15, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama won 58-48. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Tennessee guards Jordan McRae, right, and Quinton Chievous react after Alabama defeated Tennessee in an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament on Friday, March 15, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama won 58-48. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Did Tennessee deserve to make the NCAA tournament?

See the results »

View previous polls »

For the second year in a row, it’s March sadness for Tennessee men’s basketball.

The NCAA tournament Selection Show concluded Sunday without the Vols splashing across the screen. They now trudge forward to a second straight National Invitational Tournament. Tennessee (20-12), a No. 2 seed, will face seventh-seeded Mercer (23-11) on Wednesday at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: ESPNU, 8 p.m.).

Instead of the Vols, St. Mary’s, Boise State, La Salle and Middle Tennessee State landed as the last four teams in the NCAA bracket. Ole Miss, a bubble team as of Sunday morning, earned an automatic bid by means of a 66-63 win over Florida in the SEC championship game.

The Rebels gave the SEC a third bid to the NCAA tournament, joining Florida and Missouri. It’s the league’s fewest representatives since 2009 and only the second time since 1990 that less than four conference teams are dancing.

“There are too many good coaches and a caliber of talent in this league that, to get three teams, that’s an embarrassment,” said UT coach Cuonzo Martin, who is going to his third straight NIT, having brought Missouri State in 2011.

Now UT is preparing for its second straight NIT for the first time since 2003 and 2004. UT snapped a school-record streak of six straight NCAA tournament appearances last year.

“I don’t think it came down to MTSU and Tennessee because at the end of the day, you have to take care of your own business,” Martin said. “I thought we were in position with scheduling. Some games you came up short in. At the end of the day it’s about Tennessee doing what we need to do instead of consuming ourselves with who got in.”

This will be Tennessee’s 13th appearance in the NIT. The Vols (20-12) hold a 13-12 all-time record.

Mercer, a guard-oriented team coming off an Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title, comes to Thompson-Boling as winners in 11 of its last 13 games. The Bears saw their NCAA tournament hopes dashed in a conference championship game loss to Florida Gulf Coast.

Wednesday’s winner will travel to face the survivor of third-seeded BYU (21-11) and sixth-seeded Washington (18-15). As a No. 2 seed, UT would have hosted a potential second-round NIT game, but Thompson-Boling will be unavailable due to the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Upon learning of missing the NCAA tournament, memories of Georgetown, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama come to mind.

On Nov. 30, UT held Georgetown to 37 points, its fewest in a game since 1984, and lost by one. The Vols went 3-for-11 from the free-throw line that day. Georgetown ended up as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

On Jan. 24, UT led most of the way at Ole Miss, but then watched as Marshall Henderson poured in 24 second-half points to squeeze out a 62-56 win. The Vols committed 21 turnovers and missed four critical free throws in the final minutes.

Georgia upended UT twice, on Feb. 6 in Knoxville and March 2 in Athens. Both were winnable. Both were lost.

Most recently, a loss to Alabama in Friday’s SEC quarterfinals, though, was the ultimate pinprick to the Vols’ bubble.

Any of the above could have shifted Tennessee’s stars.

In a post-Selection Show interview with CBS, Mike Bobinski, the chair of the NCAA tournament selection committee, specifically pointed to the season sweep by Ole Miss as a blockade. He also said UT’s late-season push didn’t include wins over “a lot of very powerful teams” and added that the Vols “struggled to win on the road over the course of the year.”

The latter comments stand as a point of contention for Tennessee. Included in the team’s nine wins in its final 11 games were victories over Florida, Missouri and Kentucky. The Vols finished the year 4-7 on the road and 3-2 in neutral court games.

All told, UT went 3-5 against the NCAA tournament’s 68-team field.

“They said we lost to Ole Miss twice, well Ole Miss is an NCAA tournament team,” Martin quipped.

The 32-team NIT will have to suffice.

Playing as a No. 1 seed in last season’s NIT, the Vols beat Savannah State before falling to Middle Tennessee State.

That same MTSU team snuck into Sunday’s bracket. The Blue Raiders, who finished the season 28-5, including a 19-1 record in the Sun Belt Conference, landed as a No. 11 seed and will face St. Mary’s in a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 194

jt45 writes:

Writing was on the wall on this one, 4 non power conference picks took those spots. Disappointed with the Committee but more disappointed with the bad stretch of play earlier in the season witch really cost them in the end.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say bigger ouch is the Wildcats..penthouse to outhouse. lol. Witch Doctor say the SEC was bad, really bad only three teams in. Gotta schedule harder teams. Proud of this team anyway.
Bones never lie.
*wonder how many login IDs PK has? were about to see! lol

Rumblefish writes:

"UT snapped a school-record streak of six straight NCAA tournament appearances last year."

Who was the coach last year? Oh wait.....same as this year.

Unfortunately, inability to score these past 2 years is hurting. Let alone...the ability to make a freakin free throw.

And for those folks who said this year was "poor" b/c of the loss of Maymon....uhhh, they had Maymon last year and still underperformed.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Cited were the two losses to Ole Miss.
Seeing as Ole Miss won the tourney....

Yet more ammunition:
seed the top 48, play-in for the last 16.

Enough of this "people selection" cr@p.

tomkats3242 writes:

I am sure that Hart is satisfied with the NIT. If not then he will find us a coach that can lead players. OOPS, forgot we don't have very many good players, just those who can talk.

Moesart writes:

I didn't want to see TN go in and get crushed by a top seed team in the first game anyway. They are getting stronger. Onward to next year. I don't care about the NIT.

8inarow writes:

Bama, UK, Vols, Vandy in all SEC NIT final-4!

NeedForSpeed writes:

Meh, didn't earn it, didn't get it. Not really a story. For once in a really, really long time, looking forward to football season!

kdaff51 writes:

Im not surprised. Vols will learn one day that when "bubble team" is mentioned in the same breath as your team you better get past the quarter final round of your tournament. Comes down to cant win when you have to!

VictorKruger writes:

Sigh. One game short again.

If UT plays at home and you're willing to get there very early, you can sit close to the court relatively cheap since I believe the NIT tickets are all the same price and it's general admission.

Go Vols!

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Cuonzo MarNIT
DamNIT.

Rumblefish writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say bigger ouch is the Wildcats..penthouse to outhouse. lol. Witch Doctor say the SEC was bad, really bad only three teams in. Gotta schedule harder teams. Proud of this team anyway.
Bones never lie.
*wonder how many login IDs PK has? were about to see! lol

I think the last time a team won the National Championship and failed to make the tourney the following year was the 1980 championship game (Bird & Magic) btwn Indiana State and Mich State. Neither team made the tourney the following year.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to 8inarow:

Bama, UK, Vols, Vandy in all SEC NIT final-4!

Witch Doctor smell as SouthWest Airlines super saver in the works! lol.
Bones never lie.

b16VOLster writes:

No big surprise, we have a decent resume, but the losses to Ole Miss, UGA, and the UF loss in tourney, too much to overcome. Bring back CBP.

rtrchatt writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

naplesvol writes:

Sad end to another rough season
Not a fan of Martin and his style.
Who cares about NIT?
Lets get back to where we belong!

miketn6 writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

"UT snapped a school-record streak of six straight NCAA tournament appearances last year."

Who was the coach last year? Oh wait.....same as this year.

Unfortunately, inability to score these past 2 years is hurting. Let alone...the ability to make a freakin free throw.

And for those folks who said this year was "poor" b/c of the loss of Maymon....uhhh, they had Maymon last year and still underperformed.

Pathetic post.

The team actually over-achieved last year considering Hopson and Harris left early. This year, we had one pre-season SEC first team pick, and he did not play a minute. It happens. We'll be a 4 seed or better in next year's NCAA bracket assuming we have all of the players we expect to have.

doctorvol#211700 writes:

missed free throws in several games,and not finding an open kenny hall vs georgetown at end of game cost us. gotta win a game on road vs big 10, east, or acc to validate any sec record, I guess.

VOLSnTITANS writes:

So is it safe to say if the vols miss the tournament again next year martin is done? Welcome to the hot seat.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

I'd actually prefer the Vols turn down the invitation. Totally useless, they'll go out flat as they did last season.

1vavolfan writes:

Talk all day about the Bama game but if UT makes an inbound pass to a wide open Kenny Hall for a dunk against G'Town we are talking seeding. Can't remember UT scoring off a timeout in the CCM era.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

I think the last time a team won the National Championship and failed to make the tourney the following year was the 1980 championship game (Bird & Magic) btwn Indiana State and Mich State. Neither team made the tourney the following year.

Witch Doctor say the Big Blue Suicide prevention lines are now open! lol Witch Doctor like JC and think hes a great recruiter but 8 other 5 stars and he cant win..he better stay on the recruiting trail!
Bones never lie.

bigdisbig writes:

For Cuonzo to keep saying the Vols did what they needed to do to get into the NCAA tourney speaks volumes about his knowledge of what it takes to make the tourney. Although the Vols had some good wins they had some really bad losses as well. For some reason Cuonzo just cannot light a fire under these guys.
Bruce Pearl set the standard and its disappointing to have what looks to be another Buzz Peterson for a coach. Now, I am not a Cuonzo hater for I want to see him succeed but the writing is plainly on the wall. He has been here for 2 years and its been NIT appearances with a disappointing showing in the NIT last year. IF he doesn't make the Big Dance next year then he best start looking for another job for the Vol Nation will not accept another Dooley style coach.

reg_mza#219136 writes:

Doesn't shock me we're back to the NIT. Got to win those games and we coughed the ball up either by turnover or by missed free throw and that just is not champion basketball nor an NCAA basketball team. The highest RPI for an at-large team that made it in was California at 53. I think TN was teetering at 59 so I knew we weren't about halfway into the selection show. Blah, hopefully we can get an #1 seed and stay at home until the NIT Final Four.

DCVOLMAN writes:

Fact is, whe did not deserve to get in. Let's at least make some noise in the NIT.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

For Cuonzo to keep saying the Vols did what they needed to do to get into the NCAA tourney speaks volumes about his knowledge of what it takes to make the tourney. Although the Vols had some good wins they had some really bad losses as well. For some reason Cuonzo just cannot light a fire under these guys.
Bruce Pearl set the standard and its disappointing to have what looks to be another Buzz Peterson for a coach. Now, I am not a Cuonzo hater for I want to see him succeed but the writing is plainly on the wall. He has been here for 2 years and its been NIT appearances with a disappointing showing in the NIT last year. IF he doesn't make the Big Dance next year then he best start looking for another job for the Vol Nation will not accept another Dooley style coach.

Witch Doctor say thanks for confirming most that post on this site dont actually WATCH any games or keep up with ANYTHING else going on in the NCAA. Witch Doctor say really? come on man! lol
Bones never lie.

oldbasshead writes:

No one wanted ut to be in the NCAA more than me, but boys you have to brand the cow when the iron is hot and you didn't.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

For Cuonzo to keep saying the Vols did what they needed to do to get into the NCAA tourney speaks volumes about his knowledge of what it takes to make the tourney. Although the Vols had some good wins they had some really bad losses as well. For some reason Cuonzo just cannot light a fire under these guys.
Bruce Pearl set the standard and its disappointing to have what looks to be another Buzz Peterson for a coach. Now, I am not a Cuonzo hater for I want to see him succeed but the writing is plainly on the wall. He has been here for 2 years and its been NIT appearances with a disappointing showing in the NIT last year. IF he doesn't make the Big Dance next year then he best start looking for another job for the Vol Nation will not accept another Dooley style coach.

I am not sold on CCM yet either but that is an unfair criticism, A coach's job is to talk up his team regardless of what they may really think. You simply can't start the season 11-10 and expected to get in. We were all speculating about what UT had to do to get in and we were all wrong. UT needed to beat Bama and UF to get in, we weren't as close as we thought.

8inarow writes:

Cuonzo will get a 2-yr contract extension just to shut down the talk about Bruce Pearl returning.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Bring Back Bruce.

The Tennessee BBB.

chattabluetick writes:

The whole thing is rigged. Vols win 9 of last 11 while cincinnati with nearly identical record overall loses 7 of last 11 and they are in as a 10 seed. Too many teams joining nothing conferences so they can dominate and now those conferences receiving too many bids. Time for expansion to 80 teams with 48 getting first round byes. This would eliminate bubble talk and all deserving teams would make field. This would be 16 play in games to fill all seeds 13 thru 16 in each region just like when field was only 48 with 16 receiving first round byes

mcdevitt#229126 writes:

This deserves what it got with the NIT. Went to Nashville and played with zero emotion and even less defense. All they have to do is play defense and hit some free throws.

Cannot wait Skyler McCheese to get on the bus and leave us. I so tired of seeing him get beat not playing defense and then reach and grab the guy going past him. He is an absolute joke.

willphill#241787 writes:

Let's see. BP came to Tennessee. Took over a team that was bad. Made them an NCAA tournament team. Went for 6 years in a row. Counzo comes in. Has 4 star players and a five star player. Can't make the tournament. Does logic point to the cold hard fact that Martin can't coach? Tennessee should have stood behind BP, taken the punishment and moved on. A spineless administration makes for a poor athletic department. Cheek and Hamilton bear the responsibility for our present condition.

Jshoop writes:

As long as Martin coaches this team, you might as well get used to NIT. He doesn't get his teams ready until mid January and by then, the NCAA has passed them by. He never gets after Refs and constantly gets messed over on the road. Sometimes a technical isn't a bad thing.

gillblog writes:

in response to emailnodata:

I'd actually prefer the Vols turn down the invitation. Totally useless, they'll go out flat as they did last season.

Agreed. NIT is a meaningless post season event, and, unless you happen to win the whole thing, is un-helpful in prep for next season. Players time would be better spent practicing free throws.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to willphill#241787:

Let's see. BP came to Tennessee. Took over a team that was bad. Made them an NCAA tournament team. Went for 6 years in a row. Counzo comes in. Has 4 star players and a five star player. Can't make the tournament. Does logic point to the cold hard fact that Martin can't coach? Tennessee should have stood behind BP, taken the punishment and moved on. A spineless administration makes for a poor athletic department. Cheek and Hamilton bear the responsibility for our present condition.

Witch Doctor say Pearl fired himself. Witch Doctor say yes lets listen to the idiot fans(you) fire a coach with 20 wins ...THANK GOD Cheek and Hart and 95% of the fan base laugh at people like you. Witch Doctor say just because someone showed you HOW to use a computer dont mean you should(i.e. case in point)
Bones never lie.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Buzz Peterson Redux.

Ironcity writes:

Bottom line is we didn't get it done when we had to against UA. No good wins away from TBA. I get why we are not in. Lets make the best of it.

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Talk all day about the Bama game but if UT makes an inbound pass to a wide open Kenny Hall for a dunk against G'Town we are talking seeding. Can't remember UT scoring off a timeout in the CCM era.

You never know how things would have played out but I said when we lost that game it might bite us. If we win there and things play out the same as they did we're in easily.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Martins teams are too slow out of the gate and we still do not know how to make a decent percentage of our free throws.

DevoSanchez writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

"UT snapped a school-record streak of six straight NCAA tournament appearances last year."

Who was the coach last year? Oh wait.....same as this year.

Unfortunately, inability to score these past 2 years is hurting. Let alone...the ability to make a freakin free throw.

And for those folks who said this year was "poor" b/c of the loss of Maymon....uhhh, they had Maymon last year and still underperformed.

Ignorance....we had Maymon, but no Stokes for the first half of the season. Mcrae was still a mediocre player too. If we retain all of our guys, we will be top-25 next year for sure. Look out.

Jshoop writes:

in response to miketn6:

Pathetic post.

The team actually over-achieved last year considering Hopson and Harris left early. This year, we had one pre-season SEC first team pick, and he did not play a minute. It happens. We'll be a 4 seed or better in next year's NCAA bracket assuming we have all of the players we expect to have.

With this coaching staff, I think you are dreaming. They will have the players but they had them this year too without Maymon. McCrae may go pro and we would be even weaker than this year.

shoelessvol#236864 writes:

I thought that we might get in. Based on who did get in we certainly deserved a bid! nThe MWC got five teams in...unbelievable!! MTSU got in and DID NOT beat a top 100 teams ALL year. Jay Bilas on ESPN stated that this year it's not who you beat...but who you lost to. We lost to Georgia and Ole Miss that is unacceptable!! Should be much better next year!

miketn6 writes:

in response to willphill#241787:

Let's see. BP came to Tennessee. Took over a team that was bad. Made them an NCAA tournament team. Went for 6 years in a row. Counzo comes in. Has 4 star players and a five star player. Can't make the tournament. Does logic point to the cold hard fact that Martin can't coach? Tennessee should have stood behind BP, taken the punishment and moved on. A spineless administration makes for a poor athletic department. Cheek and Hamilton bear the responsibility for our present condition.

Of Pearl's six teams, two overachieved, two underachieved, and two performed as they should have. Bruce is a very good coach with a big personality, but he had to go.

All things considered, Cuonzo has done an OK job given the cards he has been dealt. He'll be fine.

Cheek has no business supervising athletics.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Bottom line is we didn't get it done when we had to against UA. No good wins away from TBA. I get why we are not in. Lets make the best of it.

All teams at the lower end have weaknesses. Some play "nothing" schedules. Others have lost more games than they've won over the last 2 months.

What comes into play in the a##-end of the brackets is "cinderealla appeal". Bama, UT, anyone else from the SEC does NOT have that. The selection committee caved to the talking heads, many of whom have a grand dislike for teh SEC dude to our arrogance in football.

Volbound1700 writes:

I disagreed with Mountain West getting 5 teams, way overrated league but whatever...

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Buzz Peterson Redux.

Witch Doctor say Buzz's record never won more than 17 games in a season and was 61-59 overall. Witch Doctor say what are you talking about?
Bones never lie
*facts hurts lol

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Do NOT accept the NIT bid!!!!

The SEC should firmly, politely turn down the NIT bids.

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you not realize people make fun of you openly in Chattanooga for being on a UT website all day? Does Alabama not have a website you can troll on? No one here cares what an Alabama fan has to say (I use fan loosely-because real fans wouldn't spend all day on other team's sites). I'm just trying to save you some embarrassment for looking so foolish.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Do NOT accept the NIT bid!!!!

The SEC should firmly, politely turn down the NIT bids.

Witch Doctor say its easier for you to log out turn the TV off and go on with your life....Witch Doctor say problem solved..youre welcome! lol. Still gonna watch and support the team!
Bones never lie.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features