Tennessee basketball a No. 4 seed in 2023 NCAA Tournament, will face Louisiana in March Madness

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

Rick Barnes thinks Tennessee basketball has a chance to make a run in the NCAA Tournament − and the Vols know their path now.

The Vols (23-10) earned a No. 4 seed for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday and will face No. 13 Louisiana (26-7) on Thursday (9:40 p.m. ET, CBS) in Orlando, Florida, as part of the East Region. It is the fourth top-four seed in five NCAA Tournament appearances under Barnes.

"I'm telling you, I think we've got as much a chance as anybody," Barnes said Friday. "There's a lot of teams that would like to be where we are right now. There's a lot of teams that won't look forward to a matchup with us."

SEC TOURNAMENT:Tennessee basketball's issues without Zakai Zeigler showed vs Missouri with March Madness next

UPSET ALERT?Tennessee to get beat by Louisiana in March Madness, CBS' Seth Davis predicts

Duke is the No. 5 seed and Oral Roberts is the No. 12 seed and the potential second-round matchup for the Vols.

It is the first time UT has been a No. 4 seed under Barnes. The Vols earned a three seed twice times previously in 2018 and 2022. They fell in the second round both times. They were a No. 2 seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament before losing to Purdue in the Sweet 16.

Tennessee has reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the past five seasons in which it was held. UT hadn't been to the tournament since 2014 before Barnes took over. 

The Vols entered this season with expectations of being a high seed for the third time, following the trend under Barnes.

Tennessee played a grueling nonconference schedule, notching wins against Kansas in the Battle 4 Atlantis and Texas in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. UT knocked off then No. 1-Alabama on Feb. 15 for its top SEC win.

The Vols blitzed through the first three months of the season but struggled through February and into March. UT went 5-7 in its final 10 regular-season games and two games in the SEC Tournament. The Vols lost their final five road games.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.