Tennessee stopped the bleeding on Tuesday night with an easy night against George Mason, but now it’s back to the grind. The Volunteers’ ridiculously loaded schedule continues this afternoon in Knoxville as they welcome No. 20 Illinois to town.
This is the first leg of a home and home scheduled with the Fighting Illini. Tennessee will make the trip to Champagne next season.
Illinois, coached by Brad Underwood, is 7-1 on the year. They dropped a close one to Marquette back in November, but have since picked up nice looking wins at Rutgers (by 18) and against No. 13 FAU.
“First of all, really good team we got coming in,” Tennessee assistant coach Rod Clark said on Friday. “Really good team. I think they’re big, they’re versatile. They have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions. You know, their five man sometimes can look like their point guard. Their point guard can sometimes look like their five man. Their two guard can look like a four man. And those are, in today’s day and age in positionless basketball is, that’s what everybody wants. That’s what we’ve tried to mimic as we’ve continued with our team. So they’re a really good team, man.
“They do a lot of funky things defensively. They’re very handsy. I think they’re No. 1 in the country in field goal defense. So we’ll have our hands full, man. They’re a really good team. We’re excited to have them come in here.”
Illinois ranks 14th in Kenpom’s metrics, while Tennessee slots in at No. 9. Kenpom projects a five-point win for the Volunteers today.
We know Tennessee has faced some big tests so far this season, but none have come at Food City Center, where they’re typically a completely different animal. We’ll see if that trend continues this afternoon.
How to watch Tennessee vs. Illinois
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Time: Noon ET
TV Channel: CBS
Streaming: CBS Sports