Your Gameday Gameplan: NCAA Tournament Round 1

Your Gameday Gameplan: SEC Championship and Selection Sunday

It’s Gameday on Rocky Top for the third day in a row now (woo!), with No. 5 Tennessee (NET Rankings) (why are we using the NET Rankings?) (29-4, 15-3) and No. 18 Auburn (25-9, 11-7) squaring off against each other for the 2019 SEC Tournament Championship.

There’s not much to preview about the Tennessee-Auburn game except to say this: Don’t let what happened last time happen again. Namely, don’t turn the ball over so much, and don’t get suckered into taking so many threes. Defending better would be a good idea, too.

It’s interesting that this game comes directly on the heels of yesterday’s big comeback win against Kentucky. The Vols dug themselves a hole by falling in love with the three in the first half and getting dumped by that fickle mistress in the second before realizing the true love of their lives is the inside-out game. It’s like ESPN and Lifetime had a baby.

Our loyalty to the one who got us here will be tested today by the Auburn Tigers, whose offense not only lives and dies by the three but whose defense is designed to seduce opponents, enticing disloyalty to what they do best. Many are the victims she has brought down, and the arc is a highway to the grave.

Yes, the Vols leveraged a few key three-pointers to erase an eight-point deficit late yesterday, but if they hadn’t missed eight in a row before that, they wouldn’t have been in that mess. And it is a large part of what cost them the first game against Auburn.

Here’s the Gameday Gameplan for Vols fans. Where and when to find the Vols game and the Selection Sunday Show on TV, what other games to watch, and what to listen to and read as you wait for kickoff.

When is the Vols game, and what TV channel is it on?

Here are the particulars for today’s Tennessee game against the Auburn Tigers for the 2019 SEC Tournament Championship:

The best other stuff for Vols fans to watch today

Here’s our list of games to watch today, curated just for Vols fans:

Date Time TV
3/17/2019 #22 Auburn #8 Tennessee 1:00 PM ESPN
3/17/2019 #24 Cincinnati #11 Houston 3:15 PM ESPN
3/17/2019 #10 Michigan #6 Michigan State 3:30 PM CBS
3/17/19 Selection Sunday Show 6:00 PM CBS

The Vols are in play for an all-important 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, but there are a lot of factors and no guarantees.

Here’s the most pertinent info from the team sheets, updated through the 3/16/19 games:

Virginia’s a lock for a 1-seed, and Duke probably is as well. Many folks are rightly eyeing Gonzaga’s 4-3 Q1 record with distrust. Houston, I just don’t know. They haven’t played as many Q1 opponents as the rest of the teams on the list, save Gonzaga.

This is the first year for the NET Rankings, and it remains to be seen just how much they really matter to the Selection Committee. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi leaves Tennessee out in favor of the three ACC teams and Gonzaga. CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm does the same. The Bracket Matrix doesn’t appear to have updated quickly enough to be reliable at this point, as it has Tennessee under Kentucky. So who knows?

Regardless of any of that, these are the things that should help Tennessee’s cause today, assuming it’s not too late for the Selection Committee to consider:

  • Tennessee beats Auburn at 1:00 to win the 2019 SEC Tournament Championship and to add another Q1 win to its resume
  • Cincinnati beats Houston at 3:15
  • Michigan beats Michigan State at 3:30

All of those things could happen. It’s unclear whether we need all, some, or none of them to happen, but either way, the first and most important thing is to beat Auburn today. Doing so should have the most impact on the 1-seeds, as (according to the bracketologists anyway) it appears that Houston is not in contention despite its NET Ranking and Michigan State is just too far behind. Still, if NET matters more to the Selection Committee than the bracketologists think, we’ll want the Cougars to lose for sure and the Spartans to lose just in case.

Pre-game prep

And in case you missed any of it, here’s some additional reading material to get you game-ready:

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