|The Volunteer State does a number on No. 1 teams|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 27 February 2008 12:30|
The Volunteer State has done a number on The Associated Press poll in the past week with consecutive upsets of the top-ranked teams taking place 200 miles apart along Tennessee's Interstate-40 corridor.
``The college basketball scene in Tennessee - if it's been better, someone's got to tell me when,'' Memphis coach John Calipari said.
Memphis (26-1) sat atop the poll for five weeks while trying to make a run at an undefeated season. That ended with a 66-62 loss to a fired-up Tennessee team in Memphis on Saturday in only the fifth meeting of No. 1 and No. 2 teams from the same state.
On Monday, Tennessee (25-3) grabbed the No. 1 ranking for the first time in the program's 99-year history, but Volunteer fans had little time to celebrate with a trip to No. 18 Vanderbilt in Nashville on Tuesday.
The Commodores (24-4) beat the Vols 72-69 in their fourth straight win over a top-ranked opponent, making Tennessee a lame-duck No. 1 team of sorts for the next few days.
Tennessee forward Duke Crews said earning a top ranking has never been the Vols focus.
``The whole No. 1 thing, it was good for the program and made our school look good, but that wasn't our main focus,'' he said. ``Our main focus is the win the SEC championship.''
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said the state of Tennessee could be mentioned along with the likes of North Carolina and Indiana as a hotbed for college basketball - at least for this season.
``I think obviously the last two games here have really brought the spotlight onto the state of college basketball in the state of Tennessee,'' Stallings said. ``We're hitting that national stage.''
Belmont is on the verge of its third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament thanks to an automatic bid for the Atlantic Sun Conference champion. East Tennessee State has reached the tournament seven times while Austin Peay has been a fixture in the Ohio Valley Conference.
``Certainly this year we can be mentioned in the same breath,'' Stallings said. ``If all our programs are able to sustain this, then who knows.''
With only one loss and a fairly light load for the rest of the regular season, Memphis could soon be back atop the rankings.
Vanderbilt travels to Arkansas on Saturday in an SEC matchup, while Tennessee hosts Kentucky on Sunday.
There's another team in Tennessee that knows a thing or two about basketball.
Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said she's sensed an excitement for basketball at Tennessee that she's never noticed before.
Her own Lady Vols team spent a week at No. 1 on the women's poll, but dropped after a loss at home to LSU.
``It is a feel-good place right now when it comes to basketball,'' she said. ``It is a special time.''