Tennessee’s Rick Barnes Calls For Transparency On NCAA Seeding, While Also Discussing SEC Title Game Moving To Saturday

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KNOXVILLE — It was a joyous celebration for Tennessee as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Tampa on Sunday afternoon. But after returning late Sunday night and players having the day off on Monday, the time to prepare for Longwood in the first round is cutting it close. Just like with every team that makes the NCAA Tournament, the preparation is always difficult, but Barnes has continued to express an idea that could help the conference.

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It’s already hard enough preparing for an opponent that you’ve never played before, but add in the timeframe in which the NCAA Tournament starts and you’re looking at a very quick turnaround. For Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, he has discussed numerous times about the league potentially moving up the tournament championship game to Saturday, giving the two finalists more time to prepare for the postseason.

“Our guys have learned how to adapt to that quickly, but we will get busy with it tomorrow. I wish our tournament would end on Saturday. You think about it, we end on Sunday, late, get back here. We were flying back through the selection show, then we turn around and get put in an early afternoon game, but that’s the way it is.

“That’s why I wish, as a league, we would look at moving our tournament (championship) to Saturday, which will be hard to do because it has been brought up so many times,” Barnes added. “I think everybody in our league, certainly coaches, would like it to be that way.”

The extra time will certainly help teams that exit their conference tournament early and already have a bid locked up for the postseason. So giving the winning team and losing team (if they are invited) the additional time to prepare is actually a pretty good idea. We see it all around the country in different leagues, like the ACC wrapping up on Saturday night, so it wouldn’t a move that would need some sort of overwhelming rescheduling. One of the biggest factors in this pertains to TV rights and ESPN potentially not wanting to have a Saturday clustered up with other championship games, while the SEC gets a prime-time spot at 1pm ET.

Also on Monday, Rick Barnes deservedly went after the NCAA Selection committee and the lack of transparency when it comes to seeding. He made the point that the group should have a press conference style setting on the Monday after the bracket is set to discuss the thought process of the seedings and selections. Tennessee received a #3 seed, which goes against any type of logical thinking, especially when most people had them at the same spot heading into the conference tournament. It’s crazy to think that a team ranked in the Top-5 in the AP poll is a three-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi couldn’t find the words on Sunday night when discussing why he kept Tennessee as a three, while also saying that conference tournaments have no bearing on what goes on during the final pairings and selections.

Barnes was quick to point out how it looks from the outside, that the conference tournaments just don’t matter when it comes to overall seeding down the stretch. He mentioned that if this is the case going forward, then why should teams that are already in the ‘Big Dance’ even take the court for the conference tournament, leaving it to the teams fighting for the opportunity at the postseason to play for a bid.

“When you look at it, to answer your question, everybody said that we were a 3-seed going into the SEC Tournament, so it doesn’t look like the tournament helped us. Certainly, I don’t understand how a team in the SEC that wins 12 games like Texas A&M, and is playing great basketball at the end (of the season), not being in the tournament. It just baffles me, it really does.

“If that’s the way it’s going to be,” Barnes added. “if the conference tournament doesn’t mean anything and the teams that are already slotted in the tournament cannot improve their seeding, we should stay at home and let the teams that are trying to get into the tournament fight for that one bid; that gives our league a chance to get more. So, those are the questions I really think should be asked and answered.”

Either way, the SEC will be well-represented in Indianapolis this week, with both Tennessee and Kentucky playing in the city, but in different regions. Auburn will open play in Greenville, SC, while Alabama will play in San Diego, Arkansas in Buffalo and LSU (without Will Wade) will play in Milwaukee.

It’s finally here. March Madness has arrived.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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  1. Meh. Teams get hosed every year. Even when Duke would get a 4 seed they always seemed to be in the region where their first 4 games were 100 miles or less from campus. At least it appears that the committee has stopped trying to set up “rivalry” or “interesting” 2nd round matchups with seeding like they did in years past.

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