While America was paying attention to the Presidential election on Tuesday night, Ken Pomeroy released his initial 2020-21 college basketball rankings.
Pomeroy’s College Basketball Ratings are a series of predictive ratings of men’s college basketball teams published free-of-charge online on his website. They were first published in 2003.
As for this year’s ratings, Tennessee debuts at No. 20 out of 347 college basketball teams. They’re the second-highest ranked SEC team behind Kentucky who debuted at No. 11. Florida (24), LSU (37), Ole Miss (42), Alabama (46), Arkansas (54), Missouri (58), South Carolina (60), Auburn (66), Texas A&M (68), Mississippi State (78), Georgia (92), and Vanderbilt (126) were ranked behind the Vols and Wildcats.
The KenPom ratings are based on the Pythagorean expectation, though it has some adjustments. Variations on the Pythagorean expectation are also used in basketball by noted statisticians Dean Oliver and John Hollinger. According to The New York Times, as of 2011, the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings have a 73% success rate, which is 2% better than the Ratings Percentage Index.
The Vols return nine scholarship players from last year’s team that went 17-14 in the regular season and 9-9 in SEC play. Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner and Jalen Johnson are the only departures. Bowden and Turner graduated, while Johnson ultimately transferred to Wake Forest as a graduate transfer.
Tennessee returns 67.7 percent of its scoring from a season ago with Pons back in the mix, according to UT basketball SID Tom Satkowiak. The Vols also return 69.7 percent of their rebounding production, 85.6 percent of their blocked shots, 66.1 percent of their steals, 68.7 percent of their minutes played and 71.6 percent of their starts.
Five-star combo-guard signee Jaden Springer and fellow five-star guard signee Keon Johnson are expected to have a significant impact on the Vols this season. Four-star power forward signee Corey Walker has also impressed since stepping foot on campus.
Tennessee’s schedule for the season has not yet been confirmed. According to a report from Jeff Goodman of Stadium, the Vols are likely to begin their season on Nov. 25 against Charlotte as part of a three-team event they’ll host in Knoxville. Tennessee would also play VCU on Nov. 27.