TN players nervous before NCAA selection, excited to play

The Tennessee men's basketball team are on their way to Ohio for their first game of the NCAA tournament.

The Vols will take on Iowa Wednesday night in a play-in game to earn the #11 seed in the Midwest Region. If they win, they will play #6 seed UMass in Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday.

The team watched the selection show in private Sunday evening, and say there were some tense moments waiting for their name to be called.

"Saw some teams get in that I didn't think would, somewhat thinking they'd take our spot," said Jarnell Stokes as the team met the media before getting on the bus to begin their trip to Dayton. "But we're just glad to play, not matter who we play, glad we're playing."

"We're happy to be in," said senior Jeronne Maymon. This will be his first experience at the Big Dance, along with most of the team.

"We're looking forward to playing," said Jordan McRae. " For everyone except Antonio this is our first go around."

Like many on the team, Memphis transfer Antonio Barton was nervous as they waited to hear their fate.

"Guys kept telling me keep calm, we were definitely in. So I was glad to see our name pop up. Relief," said Barton.

There was good reason for their nervousness. The last three seasons under Cuonzo Martin, the Vols have been on the bubble heading into the selection show. And for the past three years, they were left out of the Big Dance.

The Vols are playing their best basketball of the season, winning five in a row before losing to #1 Florida in the SEC tournament on Saturday.

Their next opponent, Iowa, is a team that's been heading in the opposite direction, losing six out of their last seven games. They are 20-12, and were eliminated by Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

The Vols and Hawkeyes will tip off at 9:10 p.m. Wednesday on TruTV. If the Vols win, they'll play UMass on Friday in Raleigh, NC.


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