Hoops Preview: #4 Tennessee vs. #13 Louisiana in 1st Rd NCAA Tournament

Hoops Preview: #4 Tennessee vs. #13 Louisiana in 1st Rd NCAA Tournament

The No. 4 seed Tennessee basketball team begins NCAA Tournament play Thursday in Orlando, taking on No. 13 seed Louisiana as part of the East Region at 9:40 p.m. ET inside the Amway Center. 
 
Fans can catch Thursday’s game on CBS and online or on any mobile device through the CBS Sports app. Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Dan Bonner (analyst), Stan Van Gundy (analyst) and Lauren Shehadi (reporter) will have the call.
 
Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp calling the action. A national radio broadcast is also available on channel 134 or channel 202 on SiriusXM and channel 965 on the SiriusXM app.
 
Tennessee (23-10) is coming off a regular season in which it played 16 games against 12 different teams in the NCAA Tournament—highlighted by wins over No. 1 seeds Alabama and Kansas and over No. 2 seed Texas.
 
The Vols’ inclusion in this year’s NCAA Tournament marks the fifth straight NCAA Tournament that the Vols have made. Thursday marks the 11th all-time meeting between Tennessee and Louisiana, with two of the previous meetings also having taken place in the NCAA Tournament. The Vols hold a 9-1 lead in the series.
 
With a win Thursday, Tennessee would advance to face the winner of No. 5 seed Duke (26-8) and No. 12 seed Oral Roberts (30-4) on Saturday. Time and television network for Saturday will be determined following the conclusion of Thursday’s games.
 
THURSDAY’S MATCHUP
• Tennessee leads its all-time series with Louisiana, 9-1, dating to 1966. The Vols have won each of the last six meetings.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns’ lone win in the series came at the 1985 Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans.
• These programs have met twice previously in the NCAA Tournament, with the Volunteers winning both games.
• Tennessee posted a 61-57 triumph in the round of 48 in Indy in 1982.
• As the South No. 4 seed in 2000, UT beat the Ragin’ Cajuns in the round of 64 in Birmingham, 63-58.
• The Vols and Cajuns have two common opponents this season. Both teams defeated McNeese. The Vols also defeated Texas, while Louisiana fell to the Longhorns.
• The Vols are 30-5 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt.
• UT’s most recent postseason trip to the state of Florida resulted in an SEC Tournament championship last March in Tampa.
 
STORYLINES
• Tennessee and Indiana are the only teams in the field of 68 that have multiple wins over No. 1 seeds, with the Vols having beaten both Kansas and Alabama. The Vols also beat No. 2 seed Texas.
• This class of Tennessee seniors has never missed the NCAA Tournament.
• This is the fourth time under head coach Rick Barnes that the Vols have earned a seed of No. 4 or better in the Big Dance.
• Grad transfer Tyreke Key finally gets to experience March Madness after missing out during four stellar seasons at Indiana State, where he scored 1,650 points.
• The Vols haven’t played with the rotation fully healthy since Feb. 8.
• Tennessee leads the nation in 3-point defense (.262) while ranking second in field-goal defense (.369) and third in scoring defense (58.0 ppg).
• Only five teams have reached the 70-point mark against these Vols.
• In three career NCAA Tournament games, Santiago Vescovi averages 11.3 points and 3.3 3-point makes per game.
• For the third time under head coach Rick Barnes, Tennessee has spent the entire season ranked in the AP Top 25.
 
SATURDAY SCENARIOS
• Tennessee is 7-8 all-time vs. Duke, with no meetings in the NCAA Tournament. The most recent meeting came at the 2011 Maui Invitational, a 77-67 Duke victory.
• Rick Barnes owns a 4-9 career head coaching record vs. Duke.
•  In a 2009 second-round NCAA clash in Greensboro, N.C., Barnes’ seventh-seeded Texas squad fell to second-seeded Duke, 74-69.
• Tennessee has never played Oral Roberts on the hardwood. Barnes, meanwhile, is 2-0 vs. the Golden Eagles, with both wins coming while he was the coach at Texas.
• Since the field expanded to 64/68 teams, Tennessee owns a 6-4 record in the round of 32. Last March, the Vols suffered a loss to Michigan in the second round in Indianapolis.
• The Vols own a 4-5 all-time record on March 18, including a 3-3 record in NCAA Tournament games.
• Sunday, March 19, is associate head coach Justin Gainey‘s 46th birthday.
 
ABOUT LOUISIANA
• Louisiana (26-7) is making its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and first since 2014 by way of capturing the Sun Belt’s tournament title and automatic bid after finishing second in the league during the regular season.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns finished the season ranked No. 89 in the NET and shared two opponents with Tennessee—falling to Texas (Dec. 21) and defeating McNeese (Dec. 15).
• Junior forward Jordan Brown was a first-team All-SBC selection, while senior guard Greg Williams Jr. was named to the league’s second team.
• Brown, a former McDonald’s All-American who has career stops at Nevada and Arizona before transferring to Louisiana, is averaging 19.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg this season.
• As a team, Louisiana ranks 15th in Division I in field-goal percentage (.484).
 
TENNESSEE IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
• The Vols are making their 25th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Big Orange own a 23-25 (.479) NCAA Tournament record.
• The Vols are 1-0 in the First Four, 14-7 in first-round games, 7-9 in second-round games, 1-0 in (the very short-lived) third-round, 1-7 in regional semifinals, 0-1 in regional finals and 0-1 in the now-defunct regional consolation round.
• This is the program’s fifth NCAA berth under eighth-year head coach Rick Barnes.
• Tennessee’s 25 NCAA Tournament berths are fourth-most among SEC programs.
• Since 2010, among SEC programs, only Kentucky (31) and Florida (19) have won more NCAA Tournament games than Tennessee (10).
 
TENNESSEE AS A NO. 4 SEED
• Tennessee is competing as a No. 4 seed for the fourth time in program history. The Vols earned a No. 4 seed in 1981, 1999 and 2000.
• Tennessee went 1-1 as a No. 4 seed in 1981. After receiving a first-round bye, UT beat No. 5 seed VCU before falling to No. 1 seed Virginia in the round of 16.
•  The Vols went 1-1 as the No. 4 seed in the 1999 East Regional in Charlotte. And in the 2000 South Regional in Birmingham, Tennessee beat Louisiana and UConn in Birmingham. The Vols then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in Austin, Texas, where they lost to North Carolina, 74-69.
 
VOLS IN THE EAST REGION
• This is the eighth time UT has competed in the East Region (1976, 1980, 1981, 1989, 1999, 2008 and 2009). Tennessee has been assigned to the East Region more times than any other region.
• The Vols reached the Sweet Sixteen in two of those NCAA Tournaments while competing as the No. 4 seed in 1981 and the No. 2 seed in 2008.
 
VOLS vs. THE FIELD OF 68
• Prior to the tournament, the Vols played 16 games against 12 different teams comprising the field of 68, going 9-7 in those contests.
• The wins came against Kansas (1), Alabama (1), Texas (2), Maryland (8), Arkansas (8), Auburn (9), USC (10) and Mississippi State (11).
• Tennessee and Indiana are the only teams in the field that own multiple wins over No. 1 seeds. The Vols are the only team with wins over different No. 1 seeds, as Indiana defeated Purdue twice.
• Against teams in the field, the Vols went 5-2 at home, 1-4 in true road games and 3-1 at neutral sites.
 
VOLS AD WHITE HAS HOOPS DNA, TIES TO ORLANDO
• Tennessee’s director of athletics, Danny White, played college basketball at both Towson (1998-2000) and Notre Dame (2000-02).
• White’s father, Kevin White, is a legendary career AD who recently retired following a long career at Duke. Danny’s older brother, Mike White, played basketball at Ole Miss and is now the head coach at Georgia.
• In addition to Danny’s basketball ties, he also has deep connections to the city of Orlando.
• White oversaw a period of unprecedented competitive and academic excellence as the AD at the University of Central Florida from 2015-21.
• In 2020, Stadium rated White No. 4 nationally on its list of athletics directors based on the combined success of his coaching hires in football and men’s basketball.

-UT Athletics

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