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NCAA Women's Tournament Bracket: Tennessee Lady Volunteers preview

There's a big void in the middle- can the seniors keep stepping up?

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Who? The Lady Vols of Tennessee.

When do they play in the first round? The Lady Vols will play Boise State on Saturday, March 21 at 1:30 p.m. ET.

What? Tennessee has a history of answering the call. Smokey is a blue tick coon hound who knows how to work a room. And now "Rocky Top" is stuck in my head. (And now it's stuck in yours, isn't it?)

Where? Knoxville, Tennessee, where a World's Fair was held yea these many years ago.

Why? Look at those sweet single-digit TLAs.

How? They were an at-large selection.

Surprise? Predicted to finish second in the conference, they tied South Carolina for first and fell to second on tiebreakers.

RPI: 2

SOS: 1

Record: 27-5 (15-1 Southeastern)

Good wins: Oregon State.

Bad losses: At Chattanooga.

Who's running this show? Holly Warlick, since 2012. Go back Pat, then come back to this preview.

Extra, Extra! Not that UT is serious business in Knoxville, but the News Sentinel has a devoted sub-site for Tennessee sports. Our cohorts over at Rocky Top Talk can probably go into a bit more detail about this Tennessee squad.

Losing the 12.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and immeasurable senior leadership of center Isabelle Harrison was a big blow to the Lady Vols. Senior forward Cierra Burdick has stepped her game up since that Kentucky game- she's putting up 11.0 points and 7.2 rebounds on the year. Senior guard Ariel Massengale is also a scoring threat, at 10.9 points per game, including 64 threes at a 37.6% clip.

I want to know how big junior center Bashaara Graves can be in the middle- she's putting up solid but not spectacular numbers on the season (10.1 points, 6.8 rebounds), and Tennessee is going to need her down low. And I know I said this last year, but I really like what Burdick brings to the floor. I don't know if she'll be the x-factor, but I look forward to seeing her.