It's Hoops Time in Tennessee: NCAA Tournament East Regional Round 1
Last Time Out: Tennessee went 1-1 in the SEC Tournament, beating Ole Miss but dropping a second game this season to Missouri, 71-79.
Previously On Vols in the NCAA Tournament: As a 3-seed in the 2022 South regional, Tennessee easily handled Longwood before bowing out to 11-seed Michigan. This will be UT's fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament under Rick Barnes, and the fourth time as a four-seed or better. However, the Vols have only made it to the second weekend of play once in that stretch.
Tennessee is 9-1 all-time against first-round opponent Louisiana, last winning 87-65 in 2018.
Who to Watch: Louisiana's marketing team. Until the late 90s, there were two "directional Louisianas": Southwestern Louisiana and Northeast Louisiana. Nobody knew which was which, and nobody cared. So in an effort to differentiate the programs, the schools rebranded themselves Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette. Each school wanted to call itself the University of Louisiana, and neither wanted the other school to go by that name. But through a little pepper-infused ingenuity, the school in Lafayette realized that by rebranding their teams "Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns", they would de facto become associated as the University of Louisiana. Although the two schools are still technically ULM and ULL, it is the school in Lafayette that owns louisiana.edu (a fact that should only be used to determine who is the "real" Louisiana, but not applied to the debate about the real UT).
Am I using this aside to avoid talking about Tennessee's outlook in this year's NCAA tournament? Yes. Onward, I suppose.