The glaringly imperfect Vols are 14-11 overall with a 6-8 SEC mark and a No. 73 RPI heading into the final week of regular-season play. They visit Vanderbilt (18-7, 7-7, No. 25) tonight, then host South Carolina Saturday at 1.
Even as a disappointing season approaches its end, though, the Big Orange has some attainable goals. At least, that's what Peterson keeps telling his players.
''What I'm trying to dangle out there for them is that 14 wins and an RPI in the low 60s should give you some kind of postseason (National Invitation Tournament) chances,'' he said. ''One more win -- 15 -- gives you a definite winning season, and that's something to go for.''
Believe it or not, the Vols still have a remote shot at the NCAA Tournament.
''A couple of wins could give you NCAA opportunities if you do well in the (SEC) Tournament,'' Peterson said. ''You never know. You can't count yourself out because teams have done it before.
''So, let's strive for perfection and see what we can get out of it.''
Tennessee projects to be an underdog against both Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Should the Vols somehow win both games, however, then win first- and second-round games in the SEC Tourney, they would be 18-12 when NCAA Tournament bids are issued. Considering UT's poor RPI, however, the Vols still might be longshots to receive a bid to the Big Show.