And just like that, Tennessee basketball is back!
The Volunteers will open their non-conference schedule tonight, welcoming in Tennessee Tech to Food City Center. Tennessee starts the year as a top ten team in the preseason AP poll, projected to win the SEC regular season by the media.
Tennessee was undefeated in the preseason, winning scrimmages over Michigan State and Lenoir-Rhyne. Now, the games start for real.
Rick Barnes has pieced together a potentially special roster, filled with big-time experience at key spots. Zakai Zeigler, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James, Jonas Aidoo, Tobe Awaka and Jahmai Mashack are all back in the fold, while sharpshooters Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey have the potential to take this team to the next level.
Barnes said on Sunday that Zeigler would play limited minutes tonight. The junior point guard suffered a torn ACL back in early March, but has made a very quick recovery and will end up playing in the opener afterall. We’ll see just how much that ends up being, especially with a trip to Wisconsin up next on Friday.
For Tennessee Tech, John Pelfrey enters year five of a complete rebuild. His program showed decent progress last season, going 11-7 in OVC play. However, Pelfrey must replace three of his top four scorers from a year ago. The Golden Eagles have been picked to finish sixth in the conference this year.
Tennessee has won all five games against Tech since Rick Barnes arrived. On average, it’s been the Volunteers coming out on top by 29+ points in the series.
How to watch Tennessee basketball tonight
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
TV Channel: None
Streaming: SEC Network+, ESPN App
Odds: Tennessee -28