Tennessee’s basketball team is back on campus as the fall semester begins and the team works towards the late September official start of practice.
The Vols still have one scholarship remaining but bearing a surprise late addition, Rick Barnes’ eighth roster at Tennessee is set. There’s plenty of buzz around the reigning SEC Tournament champions who return four starters and 58.3% of their scoring.
The return of seniors Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James combined with sophomore point guard Zakai Zeigler and newcomers Julian Phillips and Tyreke Key make Tennessee a SEC title contender again this season.
ESPN’s most recent preseason bracketology represents just that, pegging Tennessee as a No. 2 seed in the East Region and the second best team in the SEC.
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In Joe Lunardi’s rankings, the Vols play their opening weekend games in Greeneville, South Carolina where they would face 15-seed Vermont in the first round and either No. 7 seed UConn or No. 10 seed Memphis in the Round of 32.
Other top seeds in the East Regional include No. 1 North Carolina, No. 3 Indiana, No. 4 TCU and No. 5 Arizona. The Vols will battle Arizona in Tucson on Dec. 17.
The Vols are one of seven SEC teams ESPN projects to make the NCAA Tournament, joining No. 1 seed Kentucky, No. 3 Arkansas, No. 4 Auburn, No. 6 Alabama and No. 10 Florida.
LSU and Missouri each find themselves in the Next Four Out portion of the bracketology.
Tennessee begins its 2022-23 season on Nov. 7 against Tennessee Tech.