Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Sweet Sixteen loss to Louisville
Coach: Bruce Pearl (7-5 in 5 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Tennessee scores nearly 80 points per game and has a very athletic and talented group on the offensive side of the floor. Tyler Smith does the most scoring and does a little bit of everything else as well. The 6-7 junior is always aggressive getting to the basket and has had some amazing highlight reel dunks. But Smith is also a great rebounder and a solid passer for a player his size. J.P. Prince and Scotty Hopson are much like Smith, but less effective. Both are 6-7, struggle with their outside shooting and do most of their damage above the rim. Hopson is a capable outside shooter and, at 37.6 percent, is the most consistent three-point shooter on the team.
The other big time scorer is forward Wayne Chism. The 6-9 junior is the big body under the basket and has developed into a solid inside-outside scoring threat. Chism does a great job on the glass and is the most effective shot blocker on the team.
Why They Can Disappoint:
However, Chism does not even average one block per game and the lack of a shot blocker makes Tennessee’s already questionable defense even worse. All the offensive firepower in the world does not do anything if nobody wants to play any defense. The issue on the other side of the ball is the lack of three-point shooting. Cameron Tatum is a decent sharpshooter off the bench and Hopson can get hot and have a big day from long range, but on many days nobody is hitting the outside shot and the defense can simply pack it in and stop the talented wings from slashing to the basket.
Who To Watch:
The Volunteers turn the ball over quite a bit, but it is not the fault of point guard Bobby Maze. The 6-2 junior college transfer is amazingly quick and will drive the lane and create open looks for his teammates. The team does not need Maze to do much scoring, but he is averaging 8.5 points per game and can certainly add another scorer to the mix. However, his most important jobs will be controlling the tempo, taking care of the ball and playing solid defense. If the rest of the team takes the lead from Maze and starts taking care of the ball and playing defense, Tennessee has the firepower to make a deep tournament run.
Bobby Maze, Junior, Guard
Scotty Hopson, Freshman, Guard
J.P. Prince, Junior, Guard
Tyler Smith, Junior, Forward
Wayne Chism, Junior, Forward
Josh Tabb, Junior, Guard
Cameron Tatum, Freshman, Guard
Brian Williams, Sophomore, Center
Renaldo Woolridge, Freshman, Forward
+ Following final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!