INDIANAPOLIS — The double-digit seed is usually a dead giveaway.
Oh they were in the play-in game too? The final conclusion couldn't be more obvious.
If a team bearing these qualities finds itself still alive in the Sweet 16, it's got to be a Cinderella squad — a bracket wrecker that shocked the country and is now trespassing on unwarranted territory.
Turns out there's exceptions.
And when 11th-seeded Tennessee (24-12) trots out onto the raised court at Lucas Oil Stadium for tonight's Sweet 16 showdown with second-seeded Michigan (27-8), the Wolverines won't be pinning the Cinderella moniker on the Volunteers.
"If they made it here then they're a great team," U-M forward Glenn Robinson III said during Thursday's press conference. "So I think we do a great job not looking at any numbers or anything like that ... because every team from now on I believe is going to be a close game. It's going to be a very interesting game no matter what."
Considering the freshest image of UT basketball is an emphatic romp through the last month of the season — a stretch where the Vols won eight of nine with an average margin of victory exceeding 20 points, one could understand why the Wolverines question the two-digit numeral that rests next to the Tennessee name.
"It's surprising to see them as an 11 seed," Wolverine sophomore Nik Stauskas said. "They are extremely talented. All of their wings are talented, and their bigs have a lot of length.
"They definitely deserve to be here. They have played really well."
The Vols' tourney surge, however, isn't an anomaly.
Since 2011, UT is one of 13 double-digit seeds — including two others this season — to reach the Sweet 16. But perhaps what sets the Vols' run apart is the season-long and well-documented criticism and disapproval of UT coach Cuonzo Martin, something U-M head man John Beilein can relate to extremely well.
After reaching the NCAA tournament in his second season — U-M's first Big Dance appearance in more than a decade, Beilein flopped in his third campaign as the Wolverines finished a dismal 15-17 and 7-11 inside the Big Ten.
The public outcry for a change was soon nipping at his heels.
"When the sky starts falling — we hear this all the time — you lose a couple of games on the road and tough games and the sky is falling," Beilein said. "It happened to me several times in my career, and that's just where you hang on tight as a coach and you just got to eliminate those distractions."
For Martin and his players, there's been plenty.
But with a veteran squad — which UT now boasts with five upperclassmen starters — the turnaround hasn't surprised the seventh-year coach.
"I've been watching Cuonzo and this team develop over these years, and it's got such great experience on it," Beilein said. "It's something that is frankly so important to the success right now."
No evidence is more telling for U-M's head man than the two teams' last matchup, which occurred on March 18, 2011, in the NCAA tournament's Round of 64.
Everyone remembers the 30-point drubbing — a 75-45 Wolverine rout that proved to be the final act in ex-UT head coach Bruce Pearl's riveting Knoxville tenure.
But it was two particular statistics buried deep inside the box score that quickly grabbed Beilein's attention.
"I looked at our game with Tennessee (three) years ago to see if anybody was around," Beilein said. "(Jordan) McRae played one or two minutes in that game, and (Jeronne) Maymon played one or two minutes in that game and that was a 30-point game."
At the time, McRae and Maymon were scarcely used underclassmen lucky to sniff the court. Now three years later, the duo spearheads the Vols' graduating class and represents two of UT's top four leading scorers.
"It shows these kids have really worked their tails off to get to this point," Beilein said, "and that's really a credit to Cuonzo and their whole basketball program."
"We're just doing what we're supposed to do," McRae added. "We don't label ourselves as a Cinderella or all that.
"We feel we're supposed to be here."