For the first time since 1979, the Tennessee Volunteers were SEC Tournament Champions last year. Many expected the Volunteers to be back in contention this season, but a side of inconsistency, and the Volunteers are playing on Thursday of the 2023 SEC Tournament as the 5th seed. Tennessee will face the winner of Ole Miss and South Carolina, where the Volunteers will be heavy favorites. With a win on Thursday over the Gamecocks or Rebels and Tennessee will move on to a date with the Missouri Tigers on Friday. If they were to get by Missouri, Tennessee would have a date with the Alabama Crimson Tide. A program as of late, the whole state of Tennessee has dominated.
So, will Head Coach Rick Barnes and his Volunteers repeat as Southeastern Conference Tournament Champions? If so, what will it take for the Big Orange Nation to echo the sounds of Rocky Top through the halls of Bridgestone Arena?
First, one has to dive into the elephant in the room that Tennessee faces. In a game against Arkansas, Tennessee lost Zaki Zeigler for the remainder of the season with a horrific ACL tear. Without him being the floor general for the Volunteers, Tennessee lacks a point guard. With the road Tennessee has to win the SEC Tournament in 2023, it will be challenging for the Volunteers to get over the hump.
However, Tennessee has a lot of talent on the roster and has guys who were there last season when the Volunteers tasted the sweet nectar of victory. Tennessee will turn to three guys, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan, and Uros Plavsic, to be the men the Volunteers turn to this weekend in Nashville. Those three have experience at all levels at Tennessee but especially with winning. If Tennessee were to win the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, expect those three guys to play a massive role for Tennessee.
Elsewhere, Tennessee will need guys like the Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key and his counterpart Jonas Aldoo to step up and provide Tennessee with crucial minutes in each of the potential four games Tennessee will have to win this weekend to win the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.
As considered, Tennessee has one of the most talented teams in the Southeastern Conference. At times this season, Tennessee had been as high as number two in the country and has shown they can hang with just about anyone with wins over Alabama, Gonzaga, Kansas, and Maryland. For Tennessee to repeat as SEC Tournament Champions this weekend in Nashville, Head Coach; Rick Barnes will need to figure out the right lineup to provide Tennessee with the offensive efficiency to win and provide the Volunteers with enough production to win a Championship for Rocky Top.