If you take a step back to look at the Vols basketball season, you might get sick. Seriously, this season has been one heck of a rollercoaster.
In early November, Tennessee was able to take down a talented Washington team. Tennessee’s offense didn’t have a problem with the Huskies’ zone scoring 75 points on 6-of-13 from the three-point line.
A loss to Florida State paired with a buzzer-beating win over VCU took the Vols into the in-state showdown with Memphis with a 7-1 record.
That’s when the season started to turn.
It was apparent Lamonte Turner was dealing with an injury that impacted his shooting ability. However, according to KenPom, Turner had one of the best assist rates in the nation. Still, Turner ranks 3rd with a rate of 44.6.
The assist rate displays how much impact a certain player has on the offense when on the court. That’s why I thought Turner was so crucial to this year’s squad.
The Vols lost 4-of-5 to Memphis, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, and LSU. That point in the season was also the time Turner called it quits due to season-ending surgery.
Since SEC play began, Tennessee added two players to the mix in Santiago Vescovi and Uros Plavsic.
Simply put, there has been a lot going on with this team.
Then, you add losing Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Jordan Bone, and Kyle Alexander, it begs the question on Rick Barnes getting a pass.
Does Barnes get a pass if the Vols miss the NCAA Tournament?
Yes, I know he makes a ton of money. And, I hear the argument that Phillip Fulmer paid him too much.
Certainly, one could bring up the lack of success Barnes’ has in the NCAA Tournament. I think we all know what a waste last season was losing in the Sweet 16.
But, it’s been a weird season.
In fact, history shows that it’s not uncommon to miss the tournament after making the Sweet 16.
Here are my findings. (Full Chart Below)
I only went back to the 2009-10 NCAA Tournament, but there is a trend, and it’s easy to spot.
In most seasons, if a team makes the Sweet 16, they are more likely to make the NCAA Tournament the next season.
However, there is a trend of four teams per year that fail to do so.
Back in 2013-14, Tennessee made a Sweet 16 run, but as you know, they failed to make the NCAA Tournament the following season.
Loyola-Chicago hasn’t been back in the NCAA Tournament since making their magical run with Sister Jean.
Kentucky won the National Championship in 2011-12 but failed to make the NCAA Tournament the following season.
*Quick note on the chart. Green means the team made the NCAA Tournament the next season. Read means the team failed to reach the NCAA Tournament the next season. Yellow means teams not currently in Joe Lunardi’s 2019-20 projections. White means teams currently in Joe Lunardi’s 2019-20 projections.*
It doesn’t make it easier to stomach, and the Vols missing the NCAA Tournament this season will suck for the fans.
But it happens.
This season is showing the same four-team trend.
According to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, four teams made last season’s Sweet 16 that are not in his projections.
Those teams include Virginia Tech, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
So, does Barnes deserve a pass?
Maybe, maybe not. But, history shows that missing the tournament after a Sweet 16 isn’t uncommon.