(WVLT) - While sophomore Ben Bosse hasn't seen a lot of playing time this season, he has played a crucial role in preparing the team for Thursday's big game, and his hometown fans couldn't be happier.
Volunteer TV watched the game with them...and talked to a UT sports icon, Haywood Harris.
"The whole town, whole community throughout the whole state of Tennessee, I think people are really caught up in the excitement of this year's team," Haywood Harris says.
Haywood Harris should know, he's been following the vols since the early 40's...
"It's been a lot of fun watching the Vols over the years. We've had our high points and we've had our low points, but right now we're at a high point," Harris says.
And at the pinnacle of the team's success is a die-hard coach.
"And it has a lot to do with Bruce Pearl's personality," Harris continues. "He does many things to call attention to the basketball program and everybody's really swept up in it."
One family that's really gotten swept up in the action recently: The Bosse's.
"It's a dream for the guys to make it this far. They've worked hard and I know from talking with my son how hard they've worked," David Bosse says.
As Ben Bosse's dad, David, watches the game...he's proud to say his son played a crucial role in preparing the team for the Sweet Sixteen -- Ben mimicked OSU's star player all week during practice.
"Supposedly, he's been Greg Oden -- not as tall not as heavy. I know he's trying to give them a good look even though he can't give them exactly what it'll be like going up against him," David Bosse says.
The Vols haven't made it this far in the tournament for seven years.
"Well, we got there in 2000 which was a pretty exciting thing for the Tennessee Vols," Harris says.
Before that... it was 1981. And enthusiasm for the Vols' success has been growing ever since.
"I think the fact that the team has done so well this year all the way around, In fact, did well last year under Coach Bruce Pearl. He's got the community at a high peak as far as it's enjoyment of the program," Harris continues.