LSU is UT's likely tourney foe

With just one weekend of Southeastern Conference basketball play remaining, it appears likely that the Tennessee Vols will play their SEC Tournament opener March 8 at 9:45 p.m. against the LSU Tigers.

The two teams met Feb. 6 in Knoxville, with the Vols eking out a 70-67 victory.

Tennessee (9-6 in league play) projects to be the No. 3 seed from the East, which would earn it the berth opposite the No. 6 seed from the West, a position LSU (4-11) already has clinched.

Florida (12-3) has locked up the SEC East title and the division's No. 1 seed for the league tournament. Vanderbilt (10-5) clinched the East's No. 2 seeding by beating South Carolina Wednesday night at Columbia. Even if the Commodores lose their regular-season finale Saturday against Arkansas, they will be seeded higher than Tennessee based on a better record within the division.

The Vols (9-6) likely will be the division's No. 3 seed, even if they lose Saturday's regular-season finale at Georgia (8-7). Although both teams would finish 9-7 in league play, UT would have the tie-breaker by virtue of a 1-1 record vs. division champ Florida, whereas Georgia was 0-2 against the Gators.

The only way Tennessee can slip to No. 4 among East seeds is if the Vols lose Saturday at Georgia AND Kentucky (9-6) wins Sunday at Florida. That would make the Big Blue No. 3 and the Big Orange No. 4.

Should Tennessee drop to the No. 4 seeding, it would play its SEC Tournament opener March 8 at 1 p.m. against the No. 5 seed from the West. That projects to be Arkansas, which is 6-9 heading into Saturday's regular-season finale at Vanderbilt.

Tennessee and Arkansas met last weekend in Fayetteville, with the Vols taking an 83-72 victory.

Incredibly, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State all carry 7-8 SEC records into this weekend's games, so projecting the top four seeds for the Western Division is virtually impossible at this point.

The SEC Tournament is scheduled March 8-11 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

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