Monday, February 5, 2018

The Quiet Vols

As surprising as Auburn has been, Tennessee has been an even bigger surprise. Auburn at least had some expectations. In Knoxville, the Vols were not thought of as a potential tourney team at all. As of today, they’re 17-5 and up to 7 in KenPom.

Tennessee started SEC play losing to Arkansas and Auburn and 3-3 overall. They’ve won 4 straight. They’re one of two teams to beat Purdue. Their other losses were to Villanova, Missouri and North Carolina. They’ve been tested.

On offense, they’re 22nd in efficiency. They’re a good 3-point shooting team, making 39%, good for 23rd in the land. They’re a poor 2-point shooting team which drags down their effective fg%. Despite being a good team from deep, they’re not reliant on it at all. They get to the free throw line, 82nd in FTA/FGA and make them at a 75% clip. The Vols biggest offensive strength is rebounding. They’re 36th in offensive rebounding %.

The offense is solid enough but their identity is on the defensive end. The Vols are 9th in defensive efficiency. They turn teams over as they have a 22% turnover %, 36th overall. Teams effective fg% is 46.8%, 29th best. Their defensive bugaboo is poor rebounding. Opponents gets 31.8% of misses. That makes them 286th in the nation. 

Grant Williams is their best player. The 6’7” soph averages 16.2ppg and is a high usage player. Junior Kyle Alexander is my favorite player. He’s second in the nation in offensive rating. He only plays about half the available minutes and is low usage. But he’s a great rebounder and shot blocker. He’s one of those unsung guys that happens to be on a bit of an unsung team.

My guess is Tennessee will be underseeded in March but they’re capable of a deep run. They are favored in the rest of their games, so they can definitely move up some seed lines but I’m willing to bet a lot of people dismiss them. That’s okay. Even better for Vols fans, this is a pretty young team that should be even better next year. 

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