Vols face San Diego State

A 29-point loss to Kentucky in Saturday's SEC semifinals clearly cost Tennessee dearly. Despite a 25-8 record and a No. 15 national ranking, the Vols are seeded No. 6 in the Midwest Region for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

The Big Orange will face No. 11 seed San Diego State, also 25-8, Thursday in first-round Midwest play at Providence, R.I.

The winner of Thursday's game advances to second-round action on Saturday at the same site. The opponent will be the winner between Thursday's other first-round game, No. 3 seed Georgetown (23-10) vs. No. 14 Ohio University (21-14).

Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl said following the 74-45 loss to Kentucky that he expected a 4 or 5 seed. His Vols were projected as a 4 seed by many "bracketologists," including ESPN's Joe Lunardi, whose picks were aired just one hour before the NCAA field was announced at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

The top four seeds in the Midwest Region are 1-Kansas (32-2), 2-Ohio State (27-7), 3-Georgetown (23-10) and 4-Maryland (23-8). Being in the lower half of the bracket, Tennessee could see Ohio State in the Sweet 16. The Vols would not have to face Kansas - the tourney's overall No. 1 seed - until the Elite Eight. Tennessee handed the Jayhawks one of their two losses on Jan. 10 in Knoxville, prevailing 76-68.

The Big Orange is one of four SEC teams to make the NCAA Tournament field, with all four hailing from the league's Eastern Division.

The others are Kentucky, 32-2 and seeded No. 1 in the East Region, Vanderbilt, 24-8 and seeded No. 4 in the West Region, and Florida, 21-12 and seeded No. 10 in the West Region.

Kentucky opens play Thursday in New Orleans against 16 seed East Tennessee State (20-14). Vanderbilt debuts Thursday vs. 13 seed Murray State (30-4) at San Jose, Calif. Florida plays its opener vs. 7 seed Brigham Young (29-5) Thursday in Oklahoma City.

SEC Tournament runnerup Mississippi State (23-11) and Ole Miss (21-10) were snubbed by the Selection Committee. MSU suffered a heart-breaking one-point overtime loss to Kentucky earlier Sunday in the finals of the league tourney.

Here are the top four seeds in each region:

MIDWEST: 1-Kansas (32-2), 2-Ohio State (27-7), 3-Georgetown (23-10), 4-Maryland (23-8)

WEST: 1-Syracuse (28-4), 2-Kansas State (26-7), 3-Pittsburgh (24-8), 4-Vanderbilt (24-8)

EAST: 1-Kentucky (32-2), 2-West Virginia (27-6), 3-New Mexico (29-4), 4-Wisconsin (23-8)

SOUTH: 1-Duke (29-5), 2-Villanova (24-7), 3-Baylor (25-7), 4-Purdue (27-5)

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