The winner of Friday's UT-OSU game returns to action Sunday, most likely against Pittsburgh, the region's No. 1 seed. The powerful Panthers (28-4) should have minimal trouble with No. 16 seed East Tennessee State (23-10) on Friday.
Only two other Southeastern Conference teams made the NCAA Tournament field, and neither of them projects to last long, either.
SEC regular-season champ LSU (26-7) is seeded No. 8 in the South Region and will face No. 9 seed Butler (26-5) Thursday in Greensboro, N.C. Should Trent Johnson's Tigers prevail, their Round 2 test on Saturday almost certainly will be against No. 1 seed North Carolina.
SEC Tournament champ Mississippi State (23-12), seeded No. 13 in the West, will face No. 4 seed Washington (25-8) Thursday in Portland.
In addition to Tennessee and ETSU, the Chattanooga Moccasins will be representing the Volunteer State in The Dance this season. The Mocs (18-16) are seeded No. 16 in the West Region and must face top seed UConn (27-4) Thursday in Philadelphia.
In addition to Pittsburgh, UConn and North Carolina, the other No. 1 seed is Louisville (28-5), the team that ousted UT from last year's NCAA Sweet 16. In fact, Rick Pitino's Cardinals are the No. 1 overall seed for the 2009 tourney.
The Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East and the Big Ten had seven teams each invited to The Dance this year. The SEC, clearly in a down year, had just three – UT, LSU and Mississippi State. Auburn (22-11) probably had the best case of the SEC teams that were bypassed. Kentucky (20-13) saw its 17-year run of NCAA bids end.