Is South Carolina a must win?
Tomorrow at 6 pm the Volunteers will take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia. Earlier in the conference schedule, the Volunteers defeated the Gamecocks 56-55. Despite the win, it was probably the Vols’ ugliest performance of the year.
The main question most Vols fans are asking is this—is Saturday a must-win? I would argue that this game is a must-win for several reasons.
If the Volunteers want any shot of making the NCAA tournament they HAVE to win this game. Here’s the deal: if Tennessee loses, their tournament hopes are gone. The Vols recently dropped a key game against Texas A&M which was their worst loss of the season. After that key loss, the Vols have very little room for error. Even if they do win the SC game, the path to March is not paved smooth. The Vols have one of the most difficult schedules ahead of them of any college basketball team in the nation with 6 out of the 8 future rivals being quad 1 wins.
The other reason the Vols have to take home a W is that if they lose this game, the Orange fanbase will check out. After Tuesday’s blow-out victory against Arkansas, the fanbase gained hope for this team because UT proved they can actually perform at a high level. Most true VFLs will support the team no matter what, but let's have honesty hour—this isn't football. Most Vols fans don't pay attention to basketball unless they're performing at a higher-than-ordinary level. For me, being a VFL means always sticking by the squad no matter the outcome.
Unfortunately, several Vols have been under the weather as of late. John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, and Jalen Johnson are all under still-to-be-determined status for Saturday’s game, but it does seem like PG Josiah-Jordan James will be available for Saturday.
So support the Vols where ever you may be because this game is HUGE for the team and fanbase! GBO 🍊🍊