Busting Brackets

NCAA Tournament 2024: Ranking the starting lineups of each Sweet 16 team

Apr 3, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Tristen Newton (2) grabs the ball against
Apr 3, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Tristen Newton (2) grabs the ball against / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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8. Tennessee (2-seed)

Jonas Aidoo (Junior – Forward)

A Top 40 recruit three years ago, Aidoo has really taken a major step forward as a junior, jumping into a significant role in Tennessee’s starting lineup. Aidoo averages 12.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, monumental steps forward from his underclassman years. He was SEC All-First Team and All-Defense for his great contributions on both sides of the ball and has scored in double figures in both of Tennessee’s early wins in the Big Dance.

Josiah-Jordan James (Senior – Guard)

Year five for James is coming to a close but he’s certainly left his mark on the Volunteers. This year he’s averaging 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and still finding ways to contribute on an elite defensive squad. He’s put up solid numbers across the board and remains one of the best defensive pieces in the SEC. James shoots the ball solidly, especially from the free throw line, and had 9 points and 9 rebounds against Texas in the second round this past weekend.

Dalton Knecht (Senior – Guard)

Quite possibly the nation’s best transfer of the past offseason, Knecht spent two seasons at the junior college level and two at Northern Colorado before exploding onto the scene this year. In his lone year at Tennessee he’s averaging 21.1 points and 4.9 rebounds, earning the SEC Player of the Year nod as the league’s top scorer. He’s been the missing piece for a Volunteers program recently devoid of offensive powerhouses and the All-American has had several 35-point performances this season.

Santiago Vescovi (Senior – Guard)

While he might not be putting up the same type of numbers as earlier in his career, Vescovi is still finding ways to contribute in his fifth year in Knoxville. Vescovi averages 6.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists, numbers that are significantly down from the last two seasons as Knecht and others have taken on a bigger role. He remains an excellent veteran presence who really brings it on the defensive end.

Zakai Zeigler (Junior – Guard)

Named SEC Defensive Player of the Year this year, it’s been a banner junior season for Zeigler, who averages 11.7 points and 6.0 assists for the Volunteers. He coordinates both the offense and defense, leading the SEC in assists for a second year in a row, while dropping a double-double in the opening round over Long Beach State. Tennessee played without Zeigler in the Big Dance last season and they’re glad to have him healthy this time around.