Why seeding matters

Some folks wonder why Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is so disappointed to get a 6 seed for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The answer is simple:

A quality seed doesn't ensure a team's advancement in The Dance but it clearly makes the path smoother. In Tennessee's case, it makes it MUCH smoother. A little research shows that the Big Orange is 9-6 when seeded 5 or better, just 4-8 when seeded 7 or worse.

Here's a breakdown that illustrates how much better the Vols have fared in NCAA tourney play when granted a favorable seeding:

Record as a 2 seed: 3 wins, 2 losses

Record as a 3 seed: 0 wins, 0 losses

Record as a 4 seed: 4 wins, 3 losses

Record as a 5 seed: 2 wins, 1 loss

Record as a 6 seed: 0 wins, 0 losses

Record as a 7 seed: 1 win, 1 loss

Record as an 8 seed: 2 wins, 4 losses

Record as a 9 seed: 1 win, 2 losses

Record as a 10 seed: 0 wins, 1 loss

Pearl thought Tennessee's resume' warranted a 4 seed this year. After all, the Vols played a good schedule. They beat No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Kentucky. They went 25-8 overall and 11-5 in SEC play. They posted road wins at Memphis, at Mississippi State, at Alabama, at South Carolina and at LSU. They reached the semifinals of the league tournament. In short, they did everything Pearl thought they needed to do in order to qualify for a good seeding.

Here's the catch, though: The makeup of the NCAA Selection Committee changes from year to year, and so does the weight each committee gives to such factors as RPI, strength of schedule, regular-season record, conference tournament performance, quality wins, etc. As a result, Pearl compared impressing the selection committee to hitting "a moving target."

Regardless, here's a recap of Tennessee's previous NCAA experiences:

UNDER RAY MEARS (0-3)

- Unseeded in 1967, lost to Dayton 53-52 in Round 1.

- Unseeded in 1976, lost to Virginia Military 81-75 in Round 1.

- Unseeded in 1977, lost to Syracuse 93-88 in Round 1.

UNDER DON DEVOE (5-6)

- As an 8 seed in 1979, beat No. 9 seed Eastern Kentucky 97-81, then lost to No. 1 Notre Dame 73-67 in Round 2.

- As a 7 seed in 1980, beat No. 10 seed Furman 80-69, then lost to No. 2 Maryland 86-75 in Round 2.

- As a 4 seed in 1981, got a bye in Round 1, beat No. 5 seed Virginia Commonwealth 58-57, then lost to No. 1 Virginia 62-48 in Round 3.

- As a 9 seed in 1982, beat No. 8 seed Southwest Louisiana 61-57, then lost to No. 1 Virginia 54-51 in Round 2.

- As an 8 seed in 1983, beat No. 9 seed Marquette 57-56, then lost to No. 10 Louisville 70-57 in Round 2.

- As a 10 seed in 1989, lost to No. 7 seed West Virginia 84-68 in Round 1.

UNDER JERRY GREEN (3-4)

- As an 8 seed in 1998, lost to No. 9 seed Illinois State 82-81 in Round 1.

- As a 4 seed in 1999, beat No. 13 seed Delaware 62-52, then lost to No. 12 Southwest Missouri State 81-51 in Round 2.

- As a 4 seed in 2000, beat No. 13 seed Louisiana-Lafayette 63-59, beat No. 5 Connecticut 65-51, then lost to No. 8 North Carolina 74-69 in Round 3.

- As an 8 seed in 2001, lost to No. 9 seed Charlotte 70-63 in Round 1.

UNDER BRUCE PEARL (5-4)

- As a 2 seed in 2006, beat No. 15 seed Winthrop 63-61, then lost to No. 7 Wichita State 80-73 in Round 2.

- As a 5 seed in 2007, beat No. 12 seed Long Beach State 121-86, beat No. 4 Virginia 77-74 and lost to No. 1 Ohio State 85-84 in Round 3.

- As a 2 seed in 2008, beat No. 15 seed American 72-57, beat No. 7 Butler 76-71, then lost to Louisville 79-60 in Round 3.

- As a 9 seed in 2009, lost to No. 8 seed Oklahoma State 77-75 in Round 1.


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