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Bracketology: Where Tennessee Basketball Ranks After Trio of Portal Pickups

Tennessee basketball
Tennessee basketball HC Rick Barnes and PG Zakai Zeigler. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

While it’s only been 33 days since the end of the Tennessee basketball season, there’s been a lot of movement – both expected and unexpected – from the Vols’ roster.

As expected, Tennessee lost a trio of starters to graduation in Dalton Knecht, Josiah-Jordan James, and Santiago Vescovi. The Vols also saw a few key players depart for the transfer portal including Jonas Aidoo (Arkansas), Tobe Awaka (Arizona), Freddie Dilione (Penn State), and D.J. Jefferson (Longwood).

Despite the departures, though, Tennessee has hauled in three talented players from the portal themselves, with potentially more still on the way. The Vols are bringing in Hofstra wing Darlinstone Dubar, Charlotte forward Igor Milicic Jr., and Ohio State center Felix Okpara. All three players bring length and size to Tennessee’s roster to pair up with returners Zakai Zeigler, Jordan Gainey, and Jahmai Mashack.

There’s still a lot to be seen on the court with Tennessee’s new players meshing with the returners, but it’s never too early to start looking at Joe Lunardi’s early Bracketology report.

More from RTI: Dalton Knecht Posts Farewell To Tennessee Basketball

Lunardi’s report, released on Thursday, has the SEC with the second-most entrants into the bracket with 10. If Tennessee makes the NCAA Tournament in the 2024-2025 season, it will be the Vols’ 7th straight tournament entry excluding the 2020 tournament which was canceled due to COVID-19.

The ESPN expert has Rick Barnes’ Volunteers as the No. 4 seed in the West Region (San Francisco). The Vols are matched up against No. 13 Vermont in the first round with a potential opponent of No. 5 Marquette or No. 12 Princeton in the second round.

Unlike the majority of the teams around Tennessee in projections last season, there aren’t too many familiar names in the Vols’ West Region projection. UConn lands as the No. 1 seed followed by No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Baylor. Florida, Tennessee’s opponent on the diamond this weekend in Gainesville, is the No. 6 seed in the projection in Todd Golden’s third year as the Gators’ head coach.

Tennessee is one of 10 teams from the Southeastern Conference in the May 2 projections:

Midwest (Indianapolis): No. 2 Alabama, No. 8 Kentucky
West (San Francisco): No. 4 Tennessee, No. 6 Florida
South (Atlanta): No. 3 Auburn, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 10 Arkansas
East (Newark): No. 4 Texas, No. 7 Ole Miss, No. 9 Mississippi State
First Team Out: Missouri

The Vols fell to 1-seed Purdue in the Elite Eight in the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

Stay tuned to Rocky Top Insider for more Tennessee basketball offseason coverage.

Check out Joe Lunardi’s full May 2 Bracketology report by clicking here.

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