LOUISVILLE, KY (WVLT)-- With a bid for the Elite Eight at stake, the No. 2-seeded Tennessee Volunteers are prepared to face No. 3 seed Purdue in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum! Center in the South Region on Thursday. The game tips at 7:29 p.m. ET and will be televised live on TBS.
Tennessee is competing in its eighth Sweet Sixteen all time and sixth since 2000. The Vols are 31-5 this season. That impressive record also includes a school-record 19-game winning streak, a program-record-tying three victories over top-five opponents and ties the most victories in a single season in program history. UT spent four weeks atop the Associated Press Top 25 rankings, and for the first time in program history, UT spent the entire season ranked among the top 10.
The Vols advanced to the second weekend with wins over Colgate and Iowa. Tennessee moved past the Raiders, 77-70, in the first round after All-SEC wing Admiral Schofield knocked down three 3-pointers in the finals minutes. Against the Hawkeyes, UT built a 21-point lead at halftime, but Iowa stormed back in the second half to tie things up at the end of regulation. National Player of the Year candidate Grant Williams took over the game in overtime. The two-time SEC Player of the Year finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks to fuel UT on both ends of the floor. His four steals matched the Tennessee record for steals in an NCAA Tournament game.
For the third straight year, Purdue (25-9) has advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen after blowing past Old Dominion and defending national champion Villanova. The Boilermakers earned an at-large bid to the Big Dance out of the Big Ten Conference.
A WIN WOULD...
• Stand as Tennessee's 32nd victory of the season. That would set a program record for wins. It would also mark the most wins in a season by a Rick Barnes' coached team.
• Give the Volunteers a winning all-time record in NCAA Tournament play (23-22).
• Give Tennessee back-to-back wins over Big 10 opponents.
• No player on Tennessee's roster has ever previously reached the Sweet Sixteen.
• This marks UT's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in the state of Kentucky.
• This year's Vols have posted three wins over teams ranked in the AP top five. That ties the 1976-77 squad for UT's most wins over top-five opponents in a single season.
• Two of Tennessee's four losses this season have come in overtime, and all five were away from home against opponents that are seeded No. 5 or better.
• For the first time in program history, Tennessee has spent the entire season ranked in the top 10 of the AP Top 25.
• The Vols will finish this season with no more than six losses.
• Tennessee's final average home attendance of 19,034 ranks fourth nationally.
• Tennessee is 57-14 (.803) since the start of last season.
• For the third straight year, Purdue (25-9) has advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen after blowing past Old Dominion and defending national champion Villanova. The Boilermakers earned an at-large bid to the Big Dance out of the Big Ten Conference.
• Head Coach Matt Painter's 12 NCAA Tournament appearances are the most nationally for a coach under the age of 55. He is 48 years old. He has also led Purdue to four straight 25-win seasons and a top-15 finish in each of the last four year-end AP polls.
• All-American Carsen Edwards is one of the most explosive players in the country, averaging 23.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc. Against Villanova in the second round, he poured in a career-high 42 points, which marked the second-most points by a Purdue and Big Ten player in NCAA Tournament history.
• The All-Big Ten performer is one of two primary threats from deep for the Boilermakers. Edwards has knocked down 120 3-pointers this season while Ryan Cline has connected on 102 long balls. The two are just the second and third players in school history to eclipse the 100 3-pointer mark. Cline leads Purdue in assists (3.4 apg) and is second in scoring (11.7 ppg).
• Sophomore Matt Haarms became the first player to lead the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.636 FG%) and blocks (2.0 bpg) since Ohio State's Greg Oden in 2007. The 7-3 center is also averaging 9.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.