Why Tennessee will be Eliminated Early in the NCAA Tournament

With only one primary option in Dalton Knecht, relying on him to be on fire for six games in a row to win it all is alot to ask for for any team, let alone one coached by Rick Barnes who has an NCAA Tournament record of 25-26. I list reasons below why the Tennesee Volunteers will be an early exit in the NCAA Tournament.

Auburn v Tennessee
Auburn v Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

The Tennessee Volunteers are bordering on receiving a one seed in the NCAA tournament that begins next week. They also boast the AP SEC Player of the Year, Dalton Knecht.

The former Northern Colorado product transferred to the Volunteers just this past off-season and has taken the SEC by storm. Knecht is averaging 21.4 points per game to go along with 4.8 rebounds per game.

With his leadership, the Volunteers hold a 24-7 regular season record under head coach Rick Barnes heading into the SEC tournament, and are one of the favorites to win it. And they may very well do just that.

The NCAA tournament, or “March Madness” as it’s called will be a different story for the Volunteers however. With upsets happening year-over-year, look for the Volunteers to be one of them.

While a first round exit is unlikely given that a 16-seed has only beaten a 1-seed as its only happened twice ever, look for the Volunteers to not make it past the sweet sixteen.

Why Tennessee's problem is Dalton Knecht

As an individual, Knecht looks strong. And one would think the SEC player of the year should be more than enough to propel a team beyond the sweet sixteen. However, with a large part of Tennessee’s offense, look for teams to key in on Knecht to try to force the Volunteers to have someone else beat them.

One would think the Volunteers have others waiting in the wings that can take over a game to a degree if Knecht is limited, but the second option hasn’t been consistent for the Vols this year. And that is a problem come tournament time if your primary is taken away.

Tennessee Struggles with Secondary Options

Jonas Aidoo and Zakai Zeigler are each averaging over 10 points per game for the Volunteers this year, but Knecht has nearly double each of their individual average point productions.

Josiah-Jordan James is averaging the fourth most points on the team with 8.7 per game, but has struggled with his confidence shooting the ball lately, which will hurt the Vols come tournament time unless he flips a switch.

Head Coach, Rick Barnes's NCAA Tournament struggles

Additionally, head coach Rick Barnes has a 25-26 record in the NCAA Tournament with appearances during his time at Providence, Clemson, Texas and Tennessee.

All of these factors combined do not bode well for a team trying to make a deep run. With tournament time being do or die for every team and the Volunteers maybe not being as starving as some others due to a spotlighted regular season, do not be surprise if they get knocked out early in an upset.