6. Tennessee (9-3)
It’s been a bit of a challenge in Knoxville in recent years. Tennessee has become a great basketball program again and been a national contender, with their elite defense putting them in great position once again this season. Postseason success hasn’t always followed, though this year’s Volunteers squad is looking to change that luck.
Tennessee hasn’t played a game in over a week, meaning their record stayed put and we won’t learn anything new about them until after New Year’s. Many people jumped support from the Volunteers after a three-game losing streak in late November, though consecutive games against Purdue, Kansas, and North Carolina (all away from home) are forgivable losses, especially with the way Dalton Knecht, Santiago Vescovi and company are playing these days.
While things have been far from perfect, Tennessee rides a five-game winning streak that includes a quality win over Illinois. They’ll enter SEC play next week as one of the biggest favorites in the league, especially if their defense can continue to play at a high level. Opportunities abound once conference play begins, though the Volunteers have one last nonconference tune-up against Norfolk State this coming Tuesday.