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Mercer's history of tough nonconference games pays off with NCAA upset, rematch with Tennessee

  • NCAA Mercer Basketball-1.jpg

    Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman answers a question during a news conference at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Mercer plays Tennessee in a third-round game on Sunday. (AP Photo/Chuck BurtonThe Associated Press

  • NCAA Tennessee Basketball-2.jpg

    Tennessee's Jordan McRae listens to a question during a news conference at an NCAA college basketball tournament in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Tennessee plays Mercer in a third-round game on Sunday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)The Associated Press

  • eeae14056bf5320b4f0f6a7067007efb.jpg

    Tennessee's Jeronne Maymon listens to a question during a news conference at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Tennessee plays Mercer in a third-round game on Sunday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)The Associated Press

Senior Jakob Gollon believes Mercer has been building toward this NCAA tournament through years of playing power conference teams.

He says it helped prepare the 14th-seeded Bears for their upset of Duke in Friday's second round, sending Mercer to Sunday's third round to face Tennessee with a chance to reach the round of 16.

Gollon says the Bears "know how good we are" and their history of beating major conference teams like Florida State, Georgia Tech, Alabama and even these same Volunteers makes them "expect to win a lot of these games."

Mercer (27-8) pulled away in the final minutes to beat Duke in the tournament's biggest upset so far. The Bears beat these 11th-seeded Volunteers (23-12) in last year's NIT first round.