Vegas Likes Vols’ Chances to Win National Title

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    Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

    In the beginning of June, Las Vegas updated their odds to win the national title in men’s basketball for the upcoming season, and the Vols were given a very good chance to not only make it to the title game, but to win the whole championship. But now with Stanford grad transfer Reid Travis choosing the Kentucky Wildcats as his next team, those odds have been updated again. And Tennessee is in with some elite company in the updated odds.

    According to renowned basketball analyst Jeff Goodman, Kentucky is now the favorite to win the national championship this upcoming basketball season. But the Vols went from the 11th-best odds in the country to the ninth-best odds.

    Previously, Kentucky had the fourth-best odds at 10/1 and Duke was No. 1 with 11/2 odds. Now the Wildcats are on top, and Tennessee is inside the top 10 of the list.

    The Vols have, obviously, never played for a national title in men’s basketball. Historically speaking, it’s much more likely you’d see the women’s basketball team or UT’s football team given odds like that. But the hype around the men’s 2018-19 season is historically high, and expectations are soaring for the Vols’ basketball program.

    Tennessee has earned several early top 5 preseason rankings by various outlets and analysts, and for good reason. The Vols return all their starters from last season, including SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams and First Team All-SEC forward Admiral Schofield, and they’ll have most of their bench intact from last year as well, including SEC Co-Sixth Man of the Year Lamonte Turner. Not to mention head coach Rick Barnes won the SEC Coach of the Year last season and was a finalist for the national Coach of the Year award as well. And the Vols added four-star center/power forward D.J. Burns in their 2018 recruiting class this summer as well.

    Burns joins a roster comprised of players who went 26-9 overall, won a share of the regular season SEC title, and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season.

    But it’s not like the Vols will have an easy path to a title this upcoming season.

    The Vols will face Memphis on the road and play Gonzaga on a neutral court in Phoenix this season. Tennessee will also host West Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest. And just like last year, the Vols will be playing in a prestigious early season tournament. This year their possible opponents include Kansas, Louisville, and Marquette.

    Not only that, but the SEC will be even better than it was last year. Kentucky will always be a force, and plenty of other schools, such as Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and others will still be talented or even more skilled than last year.

    Regardless, Vegas clearly likes Tennessee’s odds of having a great season. And Vol fans are expecting big things this year in Rick Barnes’ fourth year as head coach.