After watching the No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers (26-3, 14-2) dismantle the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats (24-5, 13-3) on Saturday night, we know one thing is evident in college basketball. None of these teams are that good.
Two weeks ago, the Wildcats knocked off the Volunteers 86-69, on their home court. On Saturday, the Volunteers returned the favor with a 71-52 win in front of their fans. The two games were decided by a combined 35 points. Yes, the Wildcats were without inside presence Reid Travis yesterday. However, it doesn’t explain how bad the Wildcats were on the offensive side of the ball throughout much of the game.
The Wildcats average 78 points per game. Unfortunately, the Wildcats produced their lowest output of the season with 52 points. It was only the second time the Wildcats have not reached at least 60 points this season. They had an opportunity to sweep the Volunteers and remain in a virtual tie for first place. Instead, the performance just put the Wildcats into third place. Furthermore, the loss will hinder their chances of earning a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday.
Jordan Bone scored 27 points, including a perfect 5 of 5 from 3-point range in the win. Grant Williams bounced back with 24 points as the two-man wrecking crew decimated the Wildcats. There could still be cause for concern, however. Bone and Williams combined to go 7 of 9 from 3-point range. The Volunteers finished the game 8 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Keep in mind, the Volunteers were stumbling for a couple of games after getting whooped by Kentucky. Remember, they struggled mightily during a 12-point win over the Vanderbilt Commodores. Then the Volunteers lost a two-point overtime game against the LSU Tigers. They escaped with a two-point victory over the Ole Miss Rebels on Wednesday. Therefore, the Wildcats seemed to have a great chance of taking control of the SEC.
Instead, the Volunteers turned the tables. Now, everything changes. If the season ended today, both teams would be on pace to meet in the semifinals of the SEC tournament. However, they each have two more games left in the upcoming week.
What does this do for their NCAA Tournament prospects? It’s more than likely that at least one of these teams will earn a No. 1 seed. Although the Wildcats were rising over the past couple of weeks, this loss knocked them down a peg. After all, the biggest reason the Wildcats were projected over the Volunteers was due to their blowout victory over the Volunteers. Now, they can’t even hold that candle. Furthermore, the Volunteers have a better record than the Wildcats.
This game also proved that each team is capable of having an off night. In the one-and-done scenario of March Madness, that could be a problem for both teams. At least every team in college basketball has flaws. Therefore, we could see both teams in the Final Four, or we could see them lose in the first weekend.