Tennessee Volunteers: 29-4, 15-3 in the SEC
Head coach: Rick Barnes (4th season)
Players to watch: Grant Williams (19.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.4 BPG); Admiral Schofield (16.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 41.1 3PT%); Jordan Bone (13.5 PPG, 6.0 APG)
Season recap: Some have deemed them underrated while others would say the opposite. Whatever you call the Volunteers, they are without question one of the best teams in the nation, and it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see them winning the whole thing.
Tennessee couldn't have had a better start to its season, losing just one game before winter break to the then-second-best team in the nation, Kansas, in overtime. Their elite front court duo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield was too much for their opponents to handle, as the two averaged 35.2 points and 13.7 rebounds per game combined throughout the season. Tennessee suffered a devastating loss to Kentucky to lose its number one ranking for good, but proved it could beat the Wildcats the second time around with a 71-52 rout in front of its home fans. Its worst losses though were to a then lower ranked LSU squad and an unranked Auburn last Saturday. Those losses did not deter the team from taking care of business during the rest of conference play, as Tennessee won 15 SEC matches.
The Volunteers hope to regain some of the momentum they had before their loss to Kentucky and power its way through the NCAA tournament.
How they make a run: Tennessee’s 1-2 punch of Williams and Schofield helps the Volunteers dominate teams without competent bigs. They continue to play efficient basketball on the offensive side of the ball and edge out wins as they did before the break.
How they falter: Their defense cannot stop opponents from doing whatever they want near the rim, and Schofield and Williams are ineffective on the boards and in transition.