Both would be great!
Okay, we got the obvious answer out of the way. Just win everything, forever, right?
Now let’s talk a little more realistically. It’s not a stretch to say an SEC Tournament Championship or an Elite 8 run in the NCAA Tournament are achievable for this particular Tennessee team. The blend of talent and experience is there, as is the potential to string together a winning streak at the right time.
So, dear reader, if you had to pick one or the other, which one do you pick? Which would mean more? Both to the team and to the fan base? Maybe the program as a whole?
On one hand, the Vols have won four SEC tournaments all time and one SEC tournament since WWII ended. Way back in 1979. Shout out Kevin Nash and Bert Bertelkamp.
So if you want to break a 40+ year drought, you’re probably leaning more towards the SEC Championship route.
On the other hand, they’ve only made it to one Elite 8 in program history. But it was far more recent than their last SEC tournament victory; 2010. So if you would prefer to add to that tally, Elite 8 is your answer.
Maybe you don’t care about program history, and it all comes down to this particular season and what each choice would mean relative to other teams.
In that regard, it’s been a bit of a weird season in the SEC. Kentucky, the darling of the mainstream media, is way, way down. Alabama, of all teams, is way, way up. Going into the last few SEC games of the season, there are about 6 or 7 different teams vying for the other three double-bye spots for the tournament. Tennessee is right in the thick of that group.
Nonetheless, Alabama is currently the favorite to win the SEC and the SEC tournament. If you’re one of those “I don’t care as long as we beat Kentucky” types of basketball fan, you’re probably more concerned about the NCAA tournament.
As it stands at time of writing, based on current standings and favorites, Tennessee would likely have to beat Florida in the quarter-finals, Alabama in the semis, and either Arkansas or LSU in the finals. Some revenge games against rivals would be the icing on the cake if they manage to run that gauntlet.
But if it’s been a weird season in the SEC, it’s been flat-out crazy across the rest of the country. The pinnacle of college basketball right now is littered with blue bloods like…Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Ohio State, and Illinois?
Obviously, the top five doesn’t really affect Tennessee that much as it relates to an Elite 8 run. But maybe the absence of teams like Duke, UNC, Kentucky, and UCLA at the top lessens the appeal of a tournament run for you.
A convincing argument could be made for either option. The answer, for me, has to be winning the SEC Tournament. There’s nothing better, in my opinion than being able to hold winning the SEC over other SEC fans around here and on Twitter. And getting so close to the final and having nothing to show for it in the end just seems like a recipe for heartache. Plus, the inevitable “Rick Barnes can’t make the Final Four” argument isn’t going to be addressed in either scenario. Might as well have some hardware to show for it.
What do you think? Let us know on Twitter @FOXSportsKnox