Men's Basketball vs. Arkansas

No. 30 Josiah-Jordan James drives the ball offensively during the Volunteer's season finale vs Arkansas in Thompson Boling Arena on Saturday Mar. 5, 2022.

Tennessee basketball needs an Auburn loss against South Carolina and a win over Arkansas at home Saturday to earn its first share of the SEC regular season title since 2018. Both of those prerequisites happening is easier said than done, but well within the realm of possibilities.

Regardless of a win or loss against No. 14 Arkansas Saturday at noon, Tennessee basketball has locked up a double-bye in the SEC Tournament.

Let’s break down the scenarios for Tennessee basketball’s seeding and potential matchups heading into the SEC Tournament.

Tennessee win…

Were the Vols to complete their quest for perfect 16-0 record at home this season, Tennessee would be ranked no lower than a 2-seed in the SEC Tournament. No matter the scenario, Tennessee holds the tiebreaker over both Auburn and Kentucky.

South Carolina coming out of Auburn arena victorious shakes things up a bit, though. That would earn Tennessee a share of the regular season championship with the Tigers and perhaps Kentucky if the Wildcats can get the job done against Florida at 2 p.m. EST.

As stated earlier, the above scenario would also give the Volunteers a 1-seed in the SEC Tournament. Tennessee holds the two-team tiebreaker over Auburn and the three-team tiebreaker over Kentucky and Auburn via a win over each in the month of February.

Now gets into the theoretical part of this breakdown. The SEC is a mess after the top four seeds aforementioned, so below is simply a projection based off favorites in the final seven SEC regular season games of the season or labeled scenarios.

Seeds five through 10 are still completely up for grabs. Only Vanderbilt and Georgia are locked into their respective seeds – 11th and 14th respectively – heading into the final Saturday slate of the regular season.

Tennessee’s likely first matchup in the Friday quarterfinal – given a Tennessee win and an Auburn win Saturday, both favored by Kenpom – would be the winner of the 7-10 matchup, South Carolina or Mississippi State.

A Tennessee win followed by an Auburn loss would most likely result in the Vols drawing the winner of the 8-9 game, Texas A&M or Florida.

Tennessee loss…

A Tennessee loss followed by an Auburn win and Kentucky win – both favored per Kenpom – would earn the Vols a 4-seed in the tournament. The same scenario instead including one combined loss by either Kentucky or Auburn would earn Tennessee a 3-seed.

Pure chaos – Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee losing Saturday – would earn the Vols a 3-seed as well, behind Arkansas and Auburn in that order.

The following are Tennessee’s likely opponents given the above scenarios and a loss to Arkansas Saturday.

Auburn, Kentucky win: Alabama or the winner of Vanderbilt/Georgia

Auburn loss, Kentucky win or the inverse: Alabama or the winner of Vanderbilt/Georgia

Auburn and Kentucky loss: LSU or the winner of Ole Miss/Mizzou

Below is a list of the most likely final rankings when the dust settles Saturday evening, per Kenpom.

1. Auburn

2. Tennessee

3. Kentucky

4. Arkansas

5. LSU (LSU and Alabama essentially play each other for the 5-seed)

6. Alabama

7. South Carolina

8. Texas A&M

9. Florida

10. Mississippi State

11. Vanderbilt

12. Mizzou

13. Mississippi

14. Georgia

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