WBIR 10Sports Patrick Murray gives us a glimpse inside the Vols locker room and how things have been off the court, and how they know not to overlook any opponent. Patrick Murray
1. Mercer beat Tennessee last season.
The Bears came into Knoxville last March as a No. 7 seed in the NIT Tournament and knocked off second seeded Tennessee, 75-67. Mercer held Tennessee to just 38% shooting in that game and Jordan McRae shot 3-of-14 from the field.
Travis Smith led the Bears with 25 points in the win over the Vols last year but he won't be playing on Sunday, he's no longer on the team.
The Vols didn't bring much energy into that game, they were still reeling from being left out of the NCAA Tournament field and seemed uninterested in playing in the NIT. Tennessee says this year is different because the stakes are much higher, a trip to the Sweet Sixteen is on the line.
2. The Atlantic Sun's latest Cinderella.
Florida Gulf Coast was the talk of the nation last March when the 15 seed Eagles shocked 2 seed Georgetown in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. FGCU went on to upset San Diego State in the third round and advance to the Sweet 16.
Mercer has a chance to give the A-Sun two straight Sweet Sixteen appearances. The Bears won the A-Sun regular season title last year and beat Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun tournament championship game this year on the road in Fort Myers, Fla. to earn their trip to the NCAA Tournament.
WBIR 10Sports Director Nick Carboni gets an inside look at the Mercer Bears through the eyes of WMAZ, our partner based in Macon, Georgia. Nick Carboni
3. Mercer beat Duke
If you somehow don't already know, there you have it. Mercer is the lowest seed (#14) remaining in the NCAA Tournament after taking down the Blue Devils in their own backyard in Raleigh.
The Bears shredded Duke's suspect defense, shooting 56% from the field and held Duke to just 35% shooting.
4. High Powered Offense
Mercer led the A-Sun and ranks 23rd in the nation averaging 79.2 points per game. That's more than any previous Vols opponent except Iowa and Arkansas. The Bears run an efficient motion offense with many set plays and shoot 48% from the field, good for 22nd in the country.
Point guard Langston Hall is the team's leading scorer averaging 14.6 points per game but the Mercer offense is very balanced. Six bears average at least eight points per game.
5. Three 1,000 point scorers
Mercer is just one of seven teams in the country to have three one-thousand point scorers in its starting lineup. Point guard Langston Hall and forwards Jakob Gollon and Bud Thomas all have reached the milestone.
6. Extremely Experienced
All five of Mercer's starters are seniors and they have combined for 509 starts in NCAA Division I games compared to 353 starts for Tennessee. Forward Jacob Gollon will play in his 154th career game on Sunday, that's the second most in NCAA history, trailing only Ohio State's David Lighty who played in 157 games. The NCAA granted Gollon a sixth year of eligibility because of medical issues during his first two years in college.
7. Record Breaking Point Guard
Mercer point guard Langston Hall holds the Atlantic Sun career record for assists with 627. The four-year starter averages 5.6 assists per game and dished out five dimes in the win over Duke. Hall scored 16 points and had seven assists in the win over Tennessee last season.
8. Richardson Connections
Vols guard Josh Richardson was heavily recruited by Mercer. Richardson's high school coach played for Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman. The junior also played against Mercer center Daniel Coursey during his trip to Poland with Athletes in Action in the summer of 2012 and considers him a friend.
Gannett partner WMAZ, based in Macon, Georgia, talks about the Mercer Bears, the Vols opponent for in the NCAA tournament round of 32.