It’s the middle of July. SEC football media days are here. Fall camp is just a couple weeks away.
It’s the perfect time for a NCAA Tournament bracket projection, right?
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi updated his latest version of Bracketology last week, with Tennessee slotted as a No. 4 seed, one of six SEC teams in the 68-team field. Seven non-conference opponents — or possible opponents — on the 2021-22 regular-season schedule made the field, too.
Lunardi has Tennessee as the No. 4 seed in the East Region (Philadelphia), matched up against No. 13 Liberty, opposite of No. 5 Michigan State and No. 12 UAB.
The No. 1 seed in the region is UCLA, with Purdue as the No. 2 seed ahead of No. 3 Villanova.
Kentucky, a No. 2 seed, is the highest in the bracket among SEC teams, with Alabama and Arkansas joining the Vols on the No. 4 seed line. Auburn is a No. 6 seed, ahead of LSU as a No. 8 seed and No. 9-seed Florida. Mississippi State didn’t make the field, but was one of the teams in the ‘First Four Out’ category.
Tennessee’s SEC schedule has not yet been released, but the non-conference schedule has been updated and includes multiple teams that are projected to be March Madness bound.
Most notably was Texas, a No. 2 seed. Rick Barnes will make his long awaited return to Austin to face the Longhorns on January 29, with Tennessee matched up against Texas in the Big 12-SEC Challenge.
The Vols will play Villanova, a No. 3 seed in Lunardi’s bracket, on November 20 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Connecticut. They’ll get either Purdue, another No. 2 seed, or North Carolina, a No. 5 seed, the following day.
Texas Tech is a No. 6 seed. The Red Raiders will play Tennessee on December 7 in the Jimmy V Classic inside Madison Square Garden in New York. Three days earlier, the Vols will play Colorado, a No. 11 seed, on the road in Boulder.
The Vols will play Memphis, a No. 8 seed in Lunardi’s bracket, on December 18 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Tennessee starts a home-and-home with Arizona on December 22 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Wildcats are another team in the ‘First Four Out’ category.
Last March the Vols were a No. 5 seed, but were bounced in the first round by No. 12-seed Oregon State. The roster was overhauled in the weeks that followed.
Five-star freshman guard Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson left for the NBA Draft. Davonte Gaines (George Mason), Drew Pember (UNC Asheville), Corey Walker (South Florida) and E.J. Anosike (Cal State Fullerton) all left for the NCAA’s Transfer Portal.
Entering the program was the No. 3-ranked 2021 recruiting class, headlined by five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler and five-star power forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. The Vols also added four-star wing Jahmai Mashack, four-star center Jonas Aidoo and…
Read More: Where Tennessee basketball is projected in July Bracketology 2021-07-18 20:10:50