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Sweet Sixteen? Three Keys To Tennessee Beating Loyola-Chicago

Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics

After a 26-point victory over the Raiders of Wright State, Tennessee looks to play #11 seed Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Loyola-Chicago is coming off a nail-biter of a game versus Miami, securing the win with a last second 3-pointer to send the Ramblers up 64-62.

Sister Jean, Loyola-Chicago’s team chaplain, garnered some media attention, herself. Sister Jean has held the position since 1994, and at the age of 98, leads both the team and fans in prayer before the games. In a post-game interview Thursday, Sister Jean said that she typically prays for an injury-free game game, and for the refs to call the game fairly. And the congregation said, “Amen.” 

Advancing to the Sweet Sixteen would match the Vols’ best NCAA Tournament run since 2014, when Tennessee’s season ended with a narrow two-point loss to the Michigan Wolverines. While it’s no secret the Ramblers are definitely the underdog, coach Rick Barnes and his squad must be mentally focused and physically dominant in order to secure the Round of 32 victory.

First half play must be strong for Vols

Tennessee was 0-for-6 to start the game versus Wright State. In the SEC tournament championship game, the Vols struggled to shoot early on, finding themselves down by 15 points with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. In order to claim a spot in the Sweet Sixteen, the Vols must make shots early and often and come out strong, specifically when it comes to 2-point field goals, which Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield are shooting just under 50 percent for the season.

Lamonte Turner must continue hot streak

Turner had 19 points and nine assists versus Wright State, and the SEC Sixth Man of the Year continues to prove his worth off the bench. Turner had 33 minutes of playing time on Thursday, which is more than any starter. His success truly determines the outcome, and a win over Loyola-Chicago depends on Turner and his innate play-making ability.

NCAA Tournament uncharted territory for young Vols 

In his post-game interview, Schofield reiterated the fact that the team tries to treat each tournament game like any regular game. No member of Barnes’ squad has played in an NCAA Tournament, but the team seems to pay no mind to the madness of March. “Nothing is going to change,” according to Jordan Bone. “We’re going to be true to ourselves and what we’ve been doing all season.”

Prediction

Tennessee 73, Loyola-Chicago 62

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