The first college basketball preseason poll is out, as the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook released its 2021-22 rankings Thursday.
Rick Barnes’ seventh SEC squad comes in at No. 10 nationally and the second best team in the SEC behind No. 7 Kentucky.
Tennessee returns just two starters from last seasons team that Oregon State upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
However, Barnes’ retooled his roster this offseason, bringing in seven prep recruits and Auburn transfer Justin Powell. The Vols’ signing class ranks No. 4 nationally according to 247sports.
“The Vols lost three players to the NBA but responded with a top-four nationally recruiting class that is highlighted by point guard Kennedy Chandler but also infuses coach Rick Barnes’ roster with more length, rim protection, overall athleticism, and shooting ability than he’s had in his previous six seasons,” Blue Ribbon’s staff said of the Vols’ offseason.
On top of its highly touted class, Tennessee returns major contributors John Fulkerson, Josiah Jordan James, Santiago Vescovi and Victor Bailey Jr.
Blue Ribbon’s rankings include six SEC teams, including Arkansas at No. 13, Alabama at No. 15, Auburn at No. 22 and Mississippi State at No. 24.
Tennessee will play four of Blue Ribbon’s top 25 teams facing No. 5 Villanova and either No. 9 Purdue or No. 15 North Carolina in the Hall of Fame Tip Off. The Vols will also face No. 11 Memphis in Nashville and No. 4 Texas in Austin.
The Vols’ daunting non conference schedule will prepare Barnes’ team for an improved SEC.
You can view Tennessee’s full schedule here.