While things have remained pretty much the same for Tennessee basketball from a staff perspective over the past two months, there has been a ton of movement in the college basketball world. It could have easily tempered expectations for UT and Rick Barnes next year with a squad that should be loaded.
However, the updated bracketology by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi does not signal it this way. Lunardi kept the Vols as the No.4 seed in his early projections for the 2022 NCAA tournament, exactly where they were in his May 18 bracketology.
One SEC team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, led the Vols as the No.3 seed, and the Arkansas Razorbacks and Kentucky Wildcats were the No.4 seeds in other regions. The Auburn Tigers moved up to 6th, the Florida Gators to 8th and the LSU Tigers to 10th. This complements the SEC.
Considering how the support stacks up, Tennessee Basketball Won’t Fall is actually an indictment that Lunardi has them too low in previous supports. Both Alabama and Arkansas fell in this bracket, meaning the Hogs were also ahead of UT in the last one.
Another No.4 seed that fell was the Florida State Seminoles. The Houston Cougars, meanwhile, moved up to third. Still, the fact that FSU is ahead of The Flights could also be an unfair projection given the return of Rocky Top.
To be fair, the way Barnes and co. Underperforming last year with a top-five recruiting class makes any skepticism about what it will do this year a fair game. After all, he’s used to doing it, and at some point he has to prove that he can win with unique rookies.
The Wright State Raiders, as the No. 13 seed, are Tennessee basketball’s intended first-round opponent, and they are expected to play in the Midwest region. The No. 5 seed UConn Huskies and a play-in game between the Colorado State Rams and Syracuse Orange for the No. 12 seed would join them in the first installment of the weekend.