The hype around Tennessee’s men’s basketball team has been at high volume all offseason. Now, the hype is officially the highest it’s ever been in school history.
The preseason AP Top 25 Poll came out on Monday just a couple weeks before the start of the 2018-19 college basketball season, and Tennessee came in just outside the top five teams in the country. The Vols were voted as the preseason No. 6 team in the country, setting a school record for the highest preseason ranking for the men’s basketball program.
Tennessee’s 2007-08 basketball team began the season ranked as the No. 7 team in the country before the start of the season, and that was the previous high water mark for the Vols in the preseason AP Poll. That year saw the Vols win a program-record 31 games, and they were briefly the No. 1 team in the country after defeating No. 1 Memphis on the road.
The Vols have still never started a season ranked inside the top five nationally, but they’re right outside that range to start this year.
Last week, the Vols were voted to finish second in the SEC by the media members gathered for SEC Media Day. Kentucky was picked as the preseason favorite to win the SEC regular season title. UT forward Grant Williams was voted the preseason SEC Player of the Year, and he received First Team All-SEC honors as well. Admiral Schofield was voted as a Second Team All-SEC player for the preseason as well.
Tennessee has six preseason top 25 teams on their schedule this upcoming season. Kentucky comes in at No. 2 in the preseason poll, Gonzaga placed No. 3 in the poll, Auburn was voted the No. 11 team in the preseason poll, West Virginia came in at No. 13, Mississippi State came in at No. 18, and LSU ranked No. 23 in the preseason top 25.
Loyola-Chicago, the team that bounced the Vols in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, doesn’t start the year in the top 25 but received the highest number of votes of the teams that didn’t end up ranked. Florida, Alabama, and Missouri all received votes as well.
Tennessee begins their 2018-19 season on November 6th when they host head coach Rick Barnes’ alma mater, Lenoir-Rhyne.