March is a long ways away but putting out brackets is a year around ordeal for ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
And after the first week of the college basketball season, Lunardi is as impressed by Tennessee basketball as the rest of the college basketball world is. In ESPN’s Tuesday morning bracketology update, Lunardi pegged Tennessee as the No. 1 seed in the East Regional.
ESPN’s projection has Tennessee facing the winner of Howard/Moorehead State in its first game before facing the winner of Wisconsin-Oregon in the Round of 32.
Other top teams in the East Region include two-seed UConn, three-seed Duke, four-seed FAU and five-seed North Carolina.
Tennessee has a number of connections to the teams in the East Region that it could see in this bracket. The Vols already faced Wisconsin this season, play North Carolina later this month, defeated Duke and fell to FAU in the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
Purdue is the No. 1 overall seed in ESPN’s projection while Arizona and Kansas also join Tennessee as one-seeds.
Tennessee is one of eight SEC teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament along with three-seed Texas A&M, four-seed Alabama, five-seed Kentucky, five-seed Arkansas, eight-seed Auburn, eight-seed Mississippi State and 11-seed Florida.
Rick Barnes’ ninth Tennessee team is off to a strong start to the 2023-24 season. The Vols are 2-0 including an 80-70 road win at Wisconsin last week. Between the early season win over Wisconsin and preseason win over Michigan State, the Vols are one of the most well respected teams in the country.
Tennessee returns to the court Tuesday night where they’ll face Wofford at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center. Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m. ET.