5 NCAA basketball teams that will be better than you think next season

Rick Barnes, Tennessee basketball coach. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Rick Barnes, Tennessee basketball coach. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
NCAA basketball underrated teams
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

4. Tennessee Volunteers: FanSided way-too-early ranking – No. 13

Last season was a down one for Tennessee, which was not on track to make the NCAA Tournament. The Volunteers struggled early on to replace departed starters Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams and Jordan Bone, causing them to sink in the SEC standings.

There were signs of a turnaround late in the year as Tennessee put together some good results, including a road win at Rupp Arena against a very good Kentucky squad. The Volunteers played .500 ball down the stretch and also were competitive against Kansas in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, losing by just six.

Most of the Volunteers’ roster is back and head coach Rick Barnes has added a pair of five-star recruits in Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer. Both guys are highly regarded for their ability to put the ball in the basket, which was a significant issue for Tennessee last season.

There is also an opportunity to make a move in the SEC as both Florida and Kentucky, two of the conference’s traditional powers, don’t look as strong as they were last season. The additional year of maturity the Volunteers’ young roster gained will also prove to be quite valuable.

This group may not possess the same upside as the Tennessee team that flirted with a top seed in the NCAA Tournament two years ago, but the Volunteers should still be pretty darn good. Don’t be shocked if Tennessee is pushing for a share of the SEC title next February.