Vols watch and wait

Despite a lopsided loss in the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament, Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Peal believes his 15th-ranked Vols will get a quality seeding for the upcoming NCAA Tournament when the field is announced at 6 Eastern this evening.

"I think we're going to be a 4 or a 5," Pearl said on the heels of Saturday's 74-45 loss to Kentucky at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. "We'll go to one of the sites that host the 4s and 5s. That's a good seed to advance because you're in with the 12s and 13s and you'll line up in that pod with another (4- or 5-seeded) team very much like yourself."

Should Tennessee earn a No. 4 seed, it will face a 13 seed in Round 1 and probably a 5 seed in Round 2. Should the Vols be a No. 5 seed, they will face a 12 seed in Round 1 and probably a 4 seed in Round 2.

Should the Big Orange slip to a No. 6 seed, however, it will play an 11 seed in Round 1, then probably draw a 3 seed in Round 2.

Clearly, being a 4 or 5 seed bodes well for advancement.

"You've got to beat a couple of good teams but it's not going to be tremendously overwhelming, as it relates to the matchup," Pearl said. "We're excited about it."

The 29-point margin against Kentucky was the most one-sided loss of Pearl's UT career. Still, he is happy with the team's 25-8 record heading into The Big Dance.

"This team has accomplished a great deal," he said. "I'm very, very proud of this basketball team. We put ourselves in good position to play in this national championship."

Senior J.P. Prince said the Vols have to find a way to grow from the humbling loss to Kentucky, then put it behind them.

"You've just got to learn from it," he said. "You've got to go back, watch the film, see what you did wrong. We've got to be more physical. We didn't match their physicality. We (perimeter players) let their big guys affect us. We didn't protect our bigs by helping them rebound.

"With their size you can't get in foul trouble early. We did a terrible job of protecting our bigs and put them in a tough spot."

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