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Posted at 1:13 PM ET, 01/19/2011

What do you make of Bruce Pearl's Tennessee Volunteers?

By Eric Prisbell

No team may cause the NCAA tournament selection committee more headaches than Tennessee. Yes, Tennessee (12-6, 2-2 SEC) is 18th in the RPI and first nationally in schedule strength. But that only tells part of the story.

The Volunteers are good enough to hand No. 3 Pittsburgh its only loss. They are good enough to beat talented Villanova and a good Vanderbilt team. They also beat Missouri State (perhaps the best Missouri Valley team), beat Memphis by 20 and earned a buzzer-beating win at Georgia (59-57) on Tuesday night.

But the Vols have also lost to Oakland, Charleston, Southern California and Charlotte. They were fortunate to survive a one-point game against Belmont and played Tennessee-Martin close -- a six-point win -- as well.

Oh, by the way, Tennessee is playing the first eight Southeastern Conference games without suspended Coach Bruce Pearl, so the Vols could be better -- or worse? -- when Pearl returns. How will the committee look at that, as if an injured player had returned? Or will Pearl's return have no impact on the team's play?

The Bracket Matrix compiles data from the top 35 mock brackets nationwide. Just in the past two days, Tennessee was seeded fifth in at least one bracket, 13th in at least another and everywhere in between by several others. A range of seven slots is, well, ridiculous and just shows that few people really have a handle on the Vols. Different people look at this team and see different things. It will be interesting how the selection committee views the overall body of work and factors in Peal's suspension because the Vols promise to be among the teams most difficult to seed.

Tennessee
Record: 12-6
RPI: 18
SOS: 1
Vs. top 50: 5-1
Best win: Pittsburgh (5)
Worst loss: Charlotte (177)
Road/neutral court: 4-2

By Eric Prisbell  | January 19, 2011; 1:13 PM ET
 
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