Conference: Southeastern Conference
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Head coach: Rick Barnes, four years at Tennessee
2018-19 record: 31-6 (15-3 SEC)
Last time in NCAA Tournament: 2019, lost in Sweet 16 to Purdue
Top three returning scorers: Lamonte Turner, senior, guard, 11.0 ppg; Jordan Bowden, senior, guard, 10.6 ppg; John Fulkerson, junior, forward, 3.1 ppg
Key loss: Grant Williams, forward, 18.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, drafted by the Boston Celtics at No. 22
Exciting newcomer: Josiah-Jordan James, freshman, guard, 5-star (No. 22 overall) recruit, potential one-and-done who should slot right into the Vols starting lineup
Date of game: Saturday, Dec. 28th, TBA
Location: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tennessee
Preview: The Tennessee Volunteers will look vastly different from the team you’ve seen accumulating 57 wins over the past two years. Gone are 4/5ths of last season’s starting lineup including: two-time SEC Player of the Year Williams, forward Admiral Schofield, floor general Jordan Bone and 6-foot-11 big man Kyle Alexander. All four are currently in the NBA.
That is the bulk of last season’s SEC-leading scoring offense right there. Looking to replace all that production are a pair of senior guards (Turner and Bowden) and one stud freshman guard (James). Turner was the 2018 co-sixth man of the year and will now be tasked with being the veteran leader of the team.
One are that the Vols will struggle in is on the glass. If 7-foot Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic is ruled eligible, he will certainly help.
Hoops Q&A: Getting to know new #Vols 7-footer Uros Plavsic. How he handles waiting on word from the NCAA, who he watches in the NBA, music preferences, learning English and more ⤵️— @GrantRamey (@GrantRamey) October 13, 2019
[free] https://t.co/LaQYOsxMUa via @GoVols247
Otherwise, the Vols might try and run a small-ball lineup focused on the three guards mentioned above. The Badgers are the last non-conference matchup for the Vols before SEC play starts, so they should have their rotation figured out, but the safe bet is on Wisconsin squeaking out a close win on the road due to Tennessee’s lack of high-end talent.
Prediction: Badgers win 69-61