Survive and advance.

It's the preferred mantra of every heavy favorite that escapes infamy in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament ... by the slimmest of margins.

As such, the Tennessee fans have plenty of reasons to celebrate Sunday's harrowing 83-77 victory over Iowa.

Yes, the Volunteers squandered an early 25-point lead to the unsung Hawkeyes (10-seed in the South).


Yes, Tennessee mustered only 22 points in the second half, which led to the eradication of its 21-point halftime lead.

And yes, the Vols were shockingly impatient in the final minutes of regulation, settling for long three-pointers instead of driving into the teeth of the Hawkeyes defense.


But none of that matters today. 

Tennessee had just enough cachet to earn the school's ninth Sweet 16 appearance; and Volunteers (2-seed in the South) are still in play to become the first team in school history to reach the Final Four stage.

Plus, the SEC now boasts four programs in the Sweet 16 (LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn).

First up next weekend: Tennessee will face Purdue in the Sweet 16 round (Louisville). After that, a potential regional final with Gonzaga.

As for Sunday's triumph, the Vols' starting five – led by Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield – accounted for 75 of the team's 83 points and 35 of the 41 rebounds.

That quintet was also stellar from the field, shooting 47.2 percent from the field and burying all eight of the club's three-pointers.

Iowa had similar imbalance within its own ranks, with the starting five all scoring in double figures.