After five cancelled games in a row, the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team has finally taken the court.
The Vols opened the 2020-21 season Tuesday, Dec. 8 with a home game against the Colorado Buffaloes.
With a 56-47 win now under its belt, Tennessee has strengthened its case for SEC favorite.
Tennessee Vols basketball SEC odds
The Vols entered the season favored to win the 2020-21 SEC Championship.
Following behind in the pre-season prediction were Kentucky, LSU, Florida and Alabama, respectively.
By day 14 of the season, many teams had already played six games.
The Vols, on the other hand, were playing their first game as the only ranked team with a 0-0 record.
With delays taken into consideration, Tennessee now ranks sixth in SEC standings behind Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Missouri and Texas A&M, which have all played three or more games.
Tennessee remains top dog on DraftKings, however, with +190 odds of becoming Southeastern Conference Champions.
Tennessee has played in the SEC Championship five times, resulting in a 2-3 record.
In terms of the NCAA Tournament, the Vols have never made it to the Final Four, though the team has logged seven Sweet 16 appearances.
DraftKings has +550 odds of Tennessee making the Final Four and +2500 odds of the team winning the National Championship.
The Vols are currently ranked 12th in the country by the Associated Press.
The Vols are armed with all-star crew
Tennessee is coming off a strong year, finishing the 2019-20 regular season in 8th place with a 17-14 overall record, and a 9-9 conference record. Unfortunately, the season was left incomplete when 2020 March Madness was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vols didn’t lose any players to the NBA during the off season, though the team did part ways with a few key members.
Shooting guard Jordan Bowman and point guard LaMonte Turner both graduated, while guard Jalen Johnson transferred to Duke.
Four of last season’s starters return for this season:
- Sophomore point guard Santiago Vescovi
- Senior power forward John Fulkerson
- Senior small forward Yves Pons
- Sophomore combo guard Josiah-Jordan James
New to the roster are freshmen guards Jaden Springer and Kent Gilbert, along with forwards Corey Walker Jr. and Cole Morris. Together, these recruits rank fourth in the nation.
This year marks the sixth with head coach Rick Barnes – the most accomplished coach in team history. Barnes led the Vols on a 19-game winning streak that ended in a Sweet 16 appearance in 2018-19.
He won the 2019 Naismith College Coach of the Year.
If this all-star cast of team members and coaching staff are any indication, Tennessee is setting up for an alley-oop with success in the new season.
Next up on the schedule are the Cincinnati Bearcats this Saturday, Dec. 12.
Another win could solidify the media’s early prediction for the Vols to win the SEC title.