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Bracketology: Tennessee holds firm as No. 2 seed in preseason projection

A lot will change, but here’s where things stand in the offseason.

Florida Atlantic v Tennessee Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Tennessee basketball has reloaded, and expectations will be through the roof during the 2023-24 season. Rick Barnes was able to keep his core together, bringing back Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James for one more year. They’ll join Zakai Zeigler when he’s healthy, while big time prospect Freddie Dilione and Northern Colorado transfer Dalton Knecht join the mix.

In total, Tennessee only lost Olivier Nkamhoua, Julian Phillips, Tyreke Key and Uros Plavsic. They’ve added shooting and scoring — two areas they desperately needed help in looking back at last season.

“We have a lot of quality depth,” Tennessee assistant coach Justin Gainey said last week. “You look around at each position and the guys and I feel the depth. I think we addressed a couple things we were intending to address this summer which was shooting— not only with the guys we brought in but the guys that have been working since the season’s over to improve in that area. You can see guys from a physical standpoint, bodies look a lot better. Jonas is healthy. Tobe has taken a step and his confidence is at a whole new level so just the depth of our team has kind of been my first impression and it’s got me really excited.”

Analysts have taken notice too. Tennessee has been in the top ten of just about everyone’s way-too-early top 25 rankings, and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi believes the Volunteers will be one of the top seeds in next year’s NCAA Tournament.

Lunardi projects Tennessee as a No. 2 seed currently. Kansas, Duke, Michigan State and Purdue landed on the top line. The Volunteers were joined by Creighton, Houston and UConn on the two line.

Tennessee was the top seeded SEC team in the field, followed by (4) Alabama, (4) Arkansas, (5) Texas A&M, (6) Kentucky, (7) Mississippi State, (8) Auburn, (10) Florida.

We’ll get a preview of the season in a couple of weeks as Tennessee makes a trip overseas for three exhibition matchups. The Vols will host Lenior-Rhyne for another exhibition on Halloween night before officially opening up the season against Tennessee Tech on November 6th.