March Madness: 7 things to know about Wright State foe Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 21: Grant Williams #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers looks to the basket against Deaundrae Ballard #24 of the Florida Gators in the second half of a game at Thompson-Boling Arena on February 21, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 62-57. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 21: Grant Williams #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers looks to the basket against Deaundrae Ballard #24 of the Florida Gators in the second half of a game at Thompson-Boling Arena on February 21, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 62-57. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

For the first time in 50 years of basketball, Wright State will play Tennessee on Thursday when the two teams meet at 12:40 p.m. in Dallas in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

While the Raiders players breaking down film and studying the Volunteers, here are seven things for fans to know about WSU’s opponent:

Big D in Big D

Despite ranking ninth in the SEC in rebounds and blocks and sixth in steals, Tennessee is an elite defense according to the KenPom.com, which ranks the Volunteers fourth in the nation in defensive efficiency behind Virginia and Cincinnati.

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Tennessee allows 66.1 points per game and ranks 26th in the country in points allowed per possession (.953).

Player production

The Volunteers are led by 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Grant Williams, the SEC Player of the Year who averages 15.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Junior forward Admiral Schofield is the leading rebounder (6.3) and second-leading scorer (13.8).

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Sophomore guard Lamonte Turner also scores in double figures (10.7). Turner is the SEC co-Sixth Man of the Year for a deep UT team that brings a lot of players off the bench.

Coaching centurion

Former Ohio State assistant Rick Barnes is in his 31st season as a Division I head coach, and third at Tennessee.

The SEC Coach of the Year has coached in 1,017 career games, with a record of 660-357.

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Barnes was 20-10 in one season at George Mason; 108-76 in three seasons at Providence; 74-48 in four seasons at Clemson; 402-108 in 17 seasons at Texas; and 56-43 at Tennessee.

This will be Barnes’ 23rd NCAA tournament and first at Tennessee. He is 21-22 with one trip to the Final Four with Texas in 2003.

Bouncing back

The Volunteers, who are coming off a 77-72 loss to Kentucky in the SEC championship game, have only lost back-to-back games once this season. They dropped their first two games off the conference season, falling to 95-93 at Arkansas and 94-84 at home to Auburn.

Quality losses

Six of Tennessee’s eight losses this season came against NCAA tournament teams.

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They were against Villanova (85-76), North Carolina (78-73), Auburn (94-84), Missouri (59-55), Alabama (78-50) and Kentucky (77-72).

Tournament history

Tennessee is making its 21st appearance in the NCAA tournament and first since 2014, when the Volunteers beat Iowa in the First Four and advanced to the Sweet 16.

UT is 19-21 in tournament play, including 12-9 in openers.

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Seed structure

The No. 3 seed is Tennessee’s highest since 2008 when the Volunteers rode a 2 seed to the Sweet 16 before losing to Louisville.

The only other time UT received a top-4 seed was 2006, when the Volunteers were a 4.

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