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Bracketology: Tennessee one of the ‘last four in’ in Joe Lunardi’s latest

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Tennessee is set to take a step back next season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 16 SEC Conference Tournament - Kentudcky v Tennessee Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

No Grant Williams. No Admiral Schofield. No Jordan Bone. No Kyle Alexander.

That’s the reality that now faces the Tennessee basketball program. Rick Barnes, fresh off of signing a brand new, expensive deal to stay in Knoxville, must now figure out a way to reload the Volunteers without four of his five starters from last year.

So what can we expect from Tennessee next season? According to Joe Lunardi, a trip to the NCAA Tournament bubble.

The Vols were listed as a No. 11 seed in his July projection, appearing as one of his last four teams to make it into the field. Tennessee is slated for a play-in game against Arizona State, with the winner projected to play the sixth-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles.

What does a July NCAA Tournament projection mean? Absolutely nothing, of course, but it doesn’t seem to be unrealistic.

Tennessee will be just fine in the backcourt, returning Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner. Five-star freshman guard Josiah James is another likely starter and instant impact player. The problem is in the frontcourt, where the Vols have to replace the two-time SEC player of the year Grant Williams.

Even more problematic, Tennessee lost Kyle Alexander, along with Derrick Walker and D.J. Burns to transfers. They’ll likely be relying on John Fulkerson and Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic to start, assuming the 7-1 Plavsic can secure a waiver from the NCAA. Zach Kent, Drew Pember and Olivier Robinson-Nkamhoua round out the current depth situation down low for the Vols.

Tennessee still has one opening that they could use to fill that depth, but it’s getting pretty late in the process. Maybe they can get enough production out of their guards to stay afloat this year, but the post situation is worrisome.

This has all the makings of an inconsistent bubble team to me.

Poll

What will be the result of Tennessee’s 2019-20 basketball season?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    1-8 Seed in NCAA Tournament
    (111 votes)
  • 38%
    Bubble team
    (93 votes)
  • 16%
    Miss NCAA Tournament
    (39 votes)
243 votes total Vote Now