The Vols have been checking off all the signs of a great team this season:
- Signature wins (Purdue, Kentucky, get back to me on Texas A&M)
- Competitive with elite teams (Villanova, North Carolina, Auburn?)
- No bad losses
The graduate-level version of no bad losses is, “Blow out bad teams.” Add another check.
After letting Vanderbilt rally from down 20 to within two before surviving, the Vols have discarded drama: beat Iowa State by 23, beat LSU by 23, and today beat Ole Miss by 33.
Look at all this: 53.2% from the floor, 13-of-29 (44.8%) from the arc, 78.9% from the line, 27 assists on 33 made baskets, and six turnovers. Ole Miss shot 11-of-25 (44%) from three and lost by 33!
Next week was going to be a ceiling week before today’s result: the Vols are at Kentucky, then at Alabama. Tennessee hasn’t won at Rupp since 2006, hasn’t swept Kentucky since 1999, and has four wins in the history of that building. Alabama just dominated Florida in Gainesville and beat Oklahoma in Tuscaloosa last weekend.
But what might be on the other side of next week now seems even higher. The Vols are a four seed in the Bracket Matrix; I’ve thought for weeks this team had 4-6 potential, which is amazing compared to preseason expectations. But saying Tennessee is a great team and Tennessee can beat anybody is a long way from hyperbole now. I think we can start dreaming a little bigger. The Vols have earned it.
Big, big week ahead. Enjoy it.