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Tennessee Basketball has a special trait that could prove the Vols championship worth

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The greatest asset for Tennessee Basketball is not size, strength, athleticism. It’s not even that Dalton Knecht guy that everyone keeps talking about isn’t.

It’s their moxie.

In fact, I challenge you to find a better word to describe the Vols’ basketball team than “moxie,” which they are stacked with. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines “moxie” as having “energy, pep, courage, determination and know-how,” depending how you use it. All the above applies to the Vols after beating Texas in a most unorthodox way on Saturday night.

Shots weren’t falling from near and far. Knecht, the swing man who was named SEC Player of the Year, couldn’t get in the flow of the game. And the Longhorns just kept cutting into a second-half lead before Tennessee Basketball secured the 62-58 victory.

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It was, by most accounts, an ugly game. The Vols can and will – most likely – play much better in the NCAA Tournament moving forward, beginning with a matchup against Creighton in Detroit on Friday. Most successful teams in March Madness have a dud along the way. Last year’s national championship certainly did.

Before a dominating run throughout the tournament, UCONN was spooked by Iona, which looked upset bound in the first round of the tournament last season, leading the Huskies 39-37 at halftime before eventually getting blown out 87-63. However, no one talks about that game after the dominant championship run that the Huskies went on to win a national title. No one looks in their Huskie Trophy case and says, “Man, that Iona game still bugs me.”

The Huskies crushed the remainder of the teams they played to win a title by an average of 23 points. That, my friends, is moxie. Dodge a disaster and make everyone else pay dearly. Tennessee has the ability to do that.

No one will remember that the Vols missed a ton of threes, open shots and even dunks against Texas if Tennessee going on to make a Final Four or, dare I say, a national championship. Texas who?

The moxie that Tennessee Basketball is a little bit of luck and a whole lot of head coach Rick Barnes, who instills confidence in his players even in tough times. That’s exactly why the Vols reacted so well to a slow start and a clunky game that never really fell into a rhythm. However, I’d rather win that way than not.

In fact, I’d rather win with mental fortitude than athletic prowess any day. Why? Because I knew the Vols had plenty of ability before they made the Sweet 16 and still hold that as fact. However, I just thought the Vols had moxie. I wasn’t sure of it. As it turns out, they’ve got plenty of moxie and it may just be championship worthy.

The Vols could certainly still face a better team, but most think Tennessee Basketball is one of the elite teams in the nation. They could run into a hot shooting team and lose even though they play well and with ton of moxie. However, I doubt either of those will happen. Sure, Tennessee can still lose, but I don’t think the Vols will cost themselves a game in the tournament.

Some think moxie – or great team chemistry – is more luck than anything else. I beg to differ. Moxie is planted, watered and grown with hard work and determination. Is anyone more determined than Tennessee coach Rick Barnes? 

Barnes has gone to work everyday for the past 20 years intent on winning a championship and duplicating the one Final Four run that he has had in his career, with Texas, in 2003. That’s moxie. It’s no surprise that Barnes’ players have the same trait. That characteristic could make all those years of postseason frustration a distant memory with just a couple of more wins.

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