SEC Basketball: Power rankings heading into the SEC season

A power ranking across the Southeastern Conference heading into the SEC schedule

The SEC season gets underway in just a few days
The SEC season gets underway in just a few days / Marc Weiszer/Athens Banner-Herald / USA
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SEC Basketball Power Rankings:
No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee is really good. Ranked 7th in the NET rankings for a reason, the 9-3 Vols (they still have one more out-of-conference game on January 2nd against Norfolk State) dropped three games in a row right around Thanksgiving, but those losses came to teams ranked inside the top-25 in the NET, and all three of the defeats came away from Knoxville and were by 9 points or fewer.

Rick Barnes’ team, as it always does, plays good defense. The Vols are in the top-3 in the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense, field goal percentage allowed, and 3-point percentage allowed. Jonas Aidoo is still a really good post defender, and he is doing it more often after the departure of Olivier Nkamhoua in the transfer portal.

They also play smart on offense, led by veterans Zakai Zeigler, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, and Dalton Knecht. JJJ, in particular, has developed into one of the best two-way players in the league, shooting over 40% from outside and being one of the best defensive wings in the SEC.

Tennessee's SEC schedule is more difficult than most, but there is no reason to suspect that they are not ready for another double-digit SEC win total. If they do it again, the Volunteers will have won 10 games or more in SEC play for the fourth-straight year and the sixth year out of the last seven.

The Vols have made the last 5 NCAA Tournaments, and that number will grow to 6 this season.