You can now add Dickie V to the Tennessee basketball hype train. The ESPN analyst gave out his top four last night in a response to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports. Vitale listed Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Duke in his “pre season big 4.”
Vitale is just the latest analyst to place the Vols inside of their preseason top ten. Parrish has Tennessee as the 4th ranked team in the land. ESPN has them at 6th, Sporting News places them 8th, while Athlon has the Vols at 7th.
Why is everyone so high on Tennessee? It’s because RIck Barnes only lost one true contributor from his bench. James Daniel was the only meaningful player to depart Knoxville, leaving the core of Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams, Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner and Kyle Alexander in place.
That core powered Tennessee to a surprising SEC regular season title and a trip to the SEC Tournament championship game against Kentucky. We will never know what could have been if defensive anchor Kyle Alexander doesn’t get hurt in the NCAA tournament.
Regardless, this group is back for more. And the national media is all over them. It’s going to be fun to see how they respond to all of that added attention.