With a 2-0 record on the season and a big win against Wisconsin on the road last Friday night in Madison, Rick Barnes’ Tennessee Volunteers land at the top of Andy Katz’s Power 36 rankings for NCAA.com.
This is Katz’s first Power 36 of the season.
“The Volunteers were incredibly impressive in a road win at Wisconsin. I’m all in on this squad as a potential title team,” Katz wrote after placing Tennessee at the No. 1 slot in his rankings.
Tennessee dropped Tennessee Tech by a score of 80-42 last Monday night before outlasting Wisconsin in an 80-70 game on Friday night in a challenging road environment. This also comes after an 89-88 exhibition win over Michigan State in East Lansing a week before the regular season began.
The Volunteers look to be a much more well-balanced team through the first handful of games than in the past. Rick Barnes’ Tennessee teams are always going to be known for having tough, suffocating defenses, but the transfer additions of Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey have really done wonders for the offensive scheme here in the first week of the season.
Knecht is making national headlines as one of the most impactful transfers in the college basketball world this season. The Thornton, Colorado, native dropped 17 points in the season-opener against Tennessee Tech while scoring 24 crucial points in the Vols’ road win over the Badgers to start the weekend. Knecht is averaging 20.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists on 53.8 percent shooting through the first two games of the season.
"I’m running for president of the Dalton Knecht fan club. He is the All-American no one saw coming."@Vol_Hoops is the top team in @CJMooreHoops' top 25 after the opening week of the season. https://t.co/a6Hb67LiUy
— Ryan Schumpert (@rschump00) November 13, 2023
Gainey and returning veteran Josiah-Jordan James are both averaging double-digits in scoring this season, which has been a huge advantage for Rick Barnes’ offense. That’s also not mentioning returning sharpshooter Santiago Vescovi, defensive protector Jonas Aidoo, the returning Zakai Zeigler, or the talented freshmen the Vols boast this year.
Tennessee will return home for a game against Wofford this Tuesday in Knoxville before heading out to Honolulu, Hawai’i, for the 2023 Maui Invitational. The Vols will take on Syracuse on Monday, Nov. 20, followed by either Gonzaga or Purdue on Tuesday, Nov. 21. A “to be determined” game is set to close the tournament on the Wednesday of that same week.
The Vols’ home contest against Wofford on Tuesday will take place at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+.