When you look back at the NCAA Tournament, the most memorable moment of March Madness is always the final team standing as they cut down the nets. However, no one seems to realize the emotional strain the losers are put through. Teams compete all season with one goal in mind. Winning the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, when you come so close to winning but inevitably fail it hurts to the core.
Just ask Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and his Vols players.
The Volunteers came into their Sweet 16 matchup against Purdue as the favorites. But by the end of the night, Purdue came out on top beating Tennessee, 99-94, in overtime. Vols players after the game had their emotions shift to tears, as they failed to accomplish their one goal.
That is when Barnes came through to console his players.
“You’ve had a terrific year — you know that,” Barnes said. “You know we were going after it and came up short. We got a taste of it. And again, you guys coming back, you gotta want more, and that was the exact attitude you had a year ago. … That’s the toughest part, to know this team won’t be together anymore.”
As seen in the video Barne’s speaks upon the harsh brutality of the tournament.
Learning that your friends, family, and fellow athletes won’t be on the team next year is also hard to swallow. Led by Admiral Schofield Tennessee has four seniors graduating this May.
With so many players leaving it’s hard to imagine Tennessee being as dominant as they were this year in the following season. As March continues on its wrath continues to dismantle teams.
As for Purdue, they will play No. 1 seed Virginia on Saturday for a chance to enter the Final Four.