4. Tennessee (14-4)
Defense makes the world go around in Knoxville, but these Volunteers have been fierce on both sides of the ball this season. The offseason addition of Dalton Knecht, the transfer from Northern Colorado, has been an undeniable sparkplug on what was certainly Tennessee’s weaker side of the ball. They’ve played well for most of the season, but did that continue this week?
Tennessee never left their home and put together a couple of very nice wins in the process, beginning with Tuesday’s 85-66 victory over Florida. Knecht had a career-high with 39 points and continues to carry the Volunteers into elite status. Things went even better over the weekend, as the Volunteers got a 91-71 win against a tough Alabama team. Knecht’ 25 points were key in another win while Jonas Aidoo added 19 points too.
You won’t see the Volunteers shoot the cover off of the ball like some teams can do, but you know their defense is capable of containing even the nation’s best offenses. There were moving pieces this past offseason, but it’s clear that they made the right moves and might be the top contender in a very strong SEC. Next week doesn’t pose a significant challenge, as they’ll take the short jaunt to Vanderbilt next Saturday.