Tennessee Vols basketball reached a program-best mark on Tuesday


It wasn't the way the Tennessee Volunteers or their fans wanted to see their 2023-24 season end. A 72-66 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers in the Elite Eight left the Big Orange one game shy of its first-ever trip to the Final Four.

However, it appears that the Vols have gained a lot of respect from voters across the country in the latest Associated Press and Coaches Top 25 polls. The Vols were ranked No. 5 in both polls.

According to the university, this is the first time since 1948 that the final AP Poll has been released after the conclusion of the tournament. Tennessee has been ranked No. 5 in the most recent AP poll twice: in 2007-08 and 2021-22. However, Tuesday marks the program's best No. 5 spot in the final coaches' poll.

Many felt that Tennessee had a legitimate claim to the No. 1 seed (which went to North Carolina), or that they should have at least tied with the Tar Heels as a top-two seed in the West Region. Instead we went to Arizona. Neither made it to the final four as Alabama — which finished third and fourth in the final AP and Coaches Polls, respectively — ultimately claimed the West Region.

Tennessee proved they deserved their seeding and consideration for the fourth No. 1 seed with a strong tournament run all the way to the Elite Eight. It seems like the writers and trainers agree.

That's no consolation, but it's a testament to the respect the Tennessee program commands in Rick Barnes' ninth season in Knoxville.