ESPN’s way-too-early Top 25 poll has been released, and Tennessee Basketball is sitting right outside the top-ten ahead of the 2020-21 season.
After a rocky season last year, Rick Barnes and Tennessee basketball will look to have a bit better of a season this year. Expectations are high within the basketball program, and expectations are also high outside of Tennessee.
ESPN has released its way-too-early Top 25 poll, and two seasons after the Vols are losing some of its best basketball players since 2000 in Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams, the Vols are expected to bounce back.
The Vols are expected to be a top-15 team this year, so they’ll have to do a lot better than they did last season. Inconsistency riddled last year’s season, as well as the team shooting three-pointers that everyone knew they couldn’t make. If they would’ve focused on taking shots inside the arc, the season might’ve been a little better for the Vols.
If Tennessee wants to be a top-15 team this year, then they’re going to have to be able to make shots inside and beyond the arc.
The expectations that are already surrounding the basketball program are expecting the Vols to do just that. In ESPN’s ranking, the Vols land right outside the top-ten at No. 11. The author of the ranking, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, had some good things to say about the Vols’ young team.
"“What has me excited for Rick Barnes’ team, though, are the newcomers,” Borzello wrote. “Five-star Jaden Springer was the highest-ranked of the Vols’ freshmen, but Keon Johnson is drawing rave reviews in the preseason. Multiple people around college basketball are talking about Johnson as a one-and-done lottery pick type of player. Sacred Heart graduate transfer E.J. Anosike was a double-double machine in the NEC and will bring toughness and rebounding, while Oregon transfer Victor Bailey Jr. has flown under the radar and should quietly make an impact after sitting out last season.”"
Tennessee finally has some worthy depth. That wasn’t the case for Tennessee last year, so if Barnes can manage it correctly, then there are some high hopes for the Vols.
The Vols could have another special season this year, but with COVID limiting the amount of Time Barnes could spend with his players, who knows what could happen when the Vols take the court.