Not in a sleepy mood right now and with the caveat of I have not seen Tenn play one game this year and there is no assurance they get by Mercer.... I decided to look over some data points on Tenn assuming they win. Here is some quick and dirty intel on the team a lot of people are suddenly high on. (Mercer's big guy has a concussion so that hurts them Sunday assuming he cannot play).
Tenn plays in the SEC - this is looking like a very sorry conference. Three teams made it to the NCAA: Florida (18-0), Kentucky (12-6), Tenn (11-7). Georgia at 12-6 in conf was invited to NIT... and promptly lost to LA Tech. So conference = bad.
How did Tenn play vs "good opponents". They look a lot like Texas. A high variability. They crushed a lot of the lower SEC teams by 20, and played the good teams kinda close some of the times. They played a quite awful non conf outside Wichita State and Virginia. For some reason they played Xavier twice in non conf (splitting). Their one signature win is an absolute destruction of Virginia in December. Obviously a lot can change in 3 months and maybe it was just "one of those nights" for a very good defensive team in VA.
- By 9 @Wichita State
- By 8 @Kentucky [only 1 meeting]
- By 25 @Florida
- By 9 to Florida
- By 7 to Florida in tourney
So Florida is their standard as the season progressed and they have narrowed the gulf as the year went by.
They beat Iowa in OT to get into the tourney earlier this week.
So how do they "stack up" age wise and physically - which is the go forward question for UM opponents? First their starting 5 has a ton of experience - 3 seniors and 2 juniors; a major luxury in the current NCAA.
Looking at the Iowa game - their starters play the bulk of the minutes, everyone at least 32 minutes (in an OT game). Two main subs who played 12-14 minutes. Basically 7 deep; UM plays generally 8 deep in games that refs don't erase Morford in the first 2 minutes, but seem to run teams into the ground with our good conditioning, so potential advantage to offset Tenn's age/experience advantage.
Similar situation vs UF in the SEC tourney; 5 starters 27-37 minutes, 1 sub with 23 minutes - the other 2 under 10 minutes.
Beefy quotient - about the same as Texas. Two big bruisers inside Jarnell Stokes & Jeronne Maymon, both 6'8 260, 54%ish shooters. I am confident with Morgan against one, but GR3 unlike with Texas won't be out weighed by 25 lbs but by a lot more. Offset.... that dude has to chase GR3 on the perimeter. Of the two Stokes is the big target with 15 PPG and 10 RPG. The other Maymon is 10 PPG and 8 RPG.
They play 3 guards, but unlike Texas these guards have size ...and experience.... two are 6'6 (one is 6'2) so a good match for Caris and Nik size wise. Of the 3, the main man is Jordan McRae. He of 18.7 PPG. Looks like a high volume shooter to get those points with a 43.6% FG and 37% 3 PT FG. The other 2 guards are 33% 3 PT FG, but Josh Richardson (4th leading scorer and 6'6) has a nice FG% for a guard at 45%.
There 2-3 main bench guys are all guards.
So takeaways - their top 5 play a lot. They have 2 beefy guys in those top 5. If said beefy guys can get into foul trouble or tired, they get smaller with 6'5 type guards. It's a long team though, aside from one dude at 6'2 we are talking 6'5 to 6'8 for every other of their top 7-8. They are experienced and maybe coming together but an Iowa team in a tailspin just took them to overtime last week... I see a lot of similarities to Texas in this matchup.
If Mercer wins Sunday, this message will self destruct.