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What to know before Tennessee takes on Longwood

The Vols start the NCAA Tournament against the Longwood Lancers.

INDIANAPOLIS — The SEC champion Tennessee Vols start the NCAA Tournament on Thursday against Big South champion Longwood. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. 

Here's what you need to know before tip-off. 

Tennessee comes into March Madness on a seven-game winning streak and are SEC Tournament champions for the first time in 43 years. The Vols have made the last four NCAA Tournaments, going as far as the Sweet Sixteen in 2019. Tennessee has never made the Final Four in program history. 

This year's team is led by a trio of guards—Kennedy Chandler, Santiago Vescovi, and Josiah-Jordan James. Chandler, a projected first-round NBA Draft pick, leads UT with 13.8 points per game. Vescovi is a close second in scoring with 13.4 points per game. He leads Tennessee in three-point field goals with 95. James averages 9.9 points per game but contributes in other ways. He leads the team in blocked shots and rebounds. 

The Vols are a top-25 team in scoring defense, giving up an average of 62.8 points per contest. 

The Longwood Lancers hail from Farmville, VA, and are part of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. They come into March Madness on an eight-game winning streak and have won 19 of their last 20 games. 

The Lancers are led by sophomore guard Justin Hill, who averages 14.2 points per game. Senior guard Isaiah Wilkins is Longwood's second option with 12.8 points per game. He won the Big South Tournament MVP award after scoring 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the conference championship game. 

According to ESPN, the Vols are 17-point favorites. Tip-off is set for 2:45 p.m. ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.

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