There are not a lot of teams in women’s basketball that have the history that the Tennessee Lady Vols have. Tennessee has been involved in every single NCAA Tournament in the event’s history. This year marks UT’s 38th bid to be exact, but this was the worst seed they have ever received, as they have never been seeded lower than 7th.
Many believed that that their invitation wasn’t deserved and some Lady Vol fans might agree with this sentiment. Some believed that Tennessee not making the tournament this year might have been reason enough for AD Phillip Fulmer to fire embattled coach, Holly Warlick. Well, that didn’t happen, the Lady Vols are in and, now, we’re in March Madness, where anything can happen.
So what’s in store for tomorrow? UCLA and Tennessee have some common opponents this year as the Bruins played two SEC foes this season, beating Georgia and losing to Kentucky in overtime. In January, the Lady Vols lost both to the Bulldogs, 66-62, and the Wildcats, 73-71.
The Lady Vols are led by sophomores Evina Westbrook and Rennia Davis and are overall a very young team. Seven of their ten active players are freshmen or sophomores.
Westbrook is a versatile play-making guard that brings size to the Vols back court. She’s leading Tennessee in scoring and assists, averaging 15.2 points per game and 5.1 assists per game. She’s also shooting almost 39% from three.
Davis is a versatile forward for the Lady Vols, who really seems to be that barometer player for the team. When Davis plays well and is aggressive, they seem to play their best basketball. She is averaging 14.7 points per game and is leading the team in rebounds, averaging 7.7 board per game. Davis is also not afraid to pull up from three, as she is connecting at 38% clip.
This game brings together two very strong rebounding teams. The Bruins average 41.4 boards compared to Tennessee’s 43.1. The Lady Vols have out-rebounded 25 of 31 of their opponents. So, it’s going to be interesting to see how UCLA’s top rebounders Michaela Onyenwere and Lajahna Drummer control the glass.
Tennessee is 18-1 all-time against the Bruins, but none of those wins have come in the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins are a better team and I anticipate UCLA being able to move on and play the winner of the Maryland-Radford game.