Pearl, Vols preparing for NCAA Tourney

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(WVLT) -- Bruce Pearl and the Tennessee Volunteers may not be thrilled with their No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but Pearl says his team is looking forward to moving past the frustrating SEC Tourney loss to Arkansas and taking on American in the first round of the tourney.

"Just because we have a chip on our shoulders doesn't mean anything. We have to play the game, and we have to play well," Pearl said. "We're excited about playing."

"We'd like to go further than we've gone. Wouldn't it be great if this team could make another step," Pearl said.

The Vols play 15-seed American in Birmingham at 12:15 eastern time. Tickets are still available. Every Tennessee game, and every NCAA Tourney game, will be broadcast on WVLT.



1. How will you set up the Vols' practice schedule for the game with American Friday, 12:15p edt on CBS & Volunteer TV.

A - "One thing we are going to do is practice in the morning. We have to get out of bed and out of the car because we have an early game on Friday. As for practice, Monday we will lift and get some shots. Tuesday will be our hardest practice of the week. We'll practice Wednesday morning before we get on the bus, and Thursday we will work out at the arena."

2. What are your thoughts concerning the East region, widely considered the toughest in the NCAA?

A - "I think it's the toughest, no question, with North Carolina ranked the top seed in the tournament. I thought we were a one seed, or at least a high two, but obviously the committee didn't look at it that way. There were times down the stretch where Louisville was playing as well as any team in the country. Washington State is very physical. But we can't look down the road. The first thing for us is to concern ourselves with a four-team tournament made up of American University, Butler University, South Alabama and us."

3. Tell about the easy travel for Vols fans with the East at Birmingham and Charlotte.

A - "These pods are great. There was something kind of fun about getting in the West Regional and traveling to Seattle and Arizona to get away from cold weather, like Milwaukee had. This is better for fans. There is a boatload of tickets for Birmingham, and I hope our fans will gobble them up. Keep in mind that, if we are lucky enough to beat American, Butler travels well, and South Alabama in Birmingham? That could be a real challenge for us."

4. What are the strengths of the American team the Vols face in their opening round game?

A - "Terrific guard play. Their guards can really hit the three. They are one of the best in the country at that, averaging over eight per game made. And experience. They are a veteran ball club."

5. What are the prospects for the SEC's UT, Miss. State, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky?

A - "I hope the league does well. Congratulations to Georgia for keeping it together and not abandoning ship. They took the challenge of having to win two games in one day -- unprecedented. Arkansas has a chance against Indiana and then will have to play North Carolina. The Razorbacks are as talented as North Carolina will see on the road to the Final Four. Mississippi State has a tough matchup with Oregon and then will play Memphis if they win. I think Mississippi State would look forward to a game with Memphis. Kentucky plays Marquette, and that could be a good matchup for the Wildcats. Vanderbilt, after Siena, has a pretty tough matchup with Clemson, which just beat Duke and almost beat North Carolina in the ACC title game."

Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information

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