Basketball season is getting closer, and the Vols have a complete rebuilding year ahead of them (click here, for part one, and here, for part two of my article series looking at what all the Vols will be tasked with replacing this upcoming season). The good news, though, is that a number of teams in the SEC are also replacing most of their production, or will be under a new head coach in the 2019-2020 season. In my last piece, we looked at the Vols’ Non-Conference Schedule for the upcoming season, as well as talked about each game and what I thought the results would be. Let’s take a look at the second portion of the schedule. REMINDER: Per me, the Vols will be 9-3 heading into the games you will read about below!

Credit: @LTurn1 Twitter

-1/4/2020 vs. LSU

-My thoughts: LSU did lose Naz Reid and Tremont Waters to the NBA, but they keep a couple of solid pieces from last years team, namely Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart, the latter of the two who had his big coming out party against our Vols last season. Also, they add 5 Star Forward Trendon Watford (#18 player overall/#4 PF per 247), who may replace Reid’s production (13.6 pts, 7.2 reb).

Credit: @JavonteSmart Twitter

Will Wade has voiced his concerns that this LSU squad is lacking the same amount of toughness and grit as last season’s Tigers squad, which was what made them the team they were. He also questions their attention to detail. While this is preseason coach-speak, I think the Bayou Bengals look much different this season; less polished and less athletic.

Playing in Baton Rouge is a different animal- and that had a lot to do with why we fell to the Tigers last season. On the other side of that token, playing in Knoxville is not an easy task for opponents. Both teams have lost a lot of production, and Tennessee has admittedly lost more. LSU is going to ultimately finish higher than the Vols in the final SEC standings. However, opening up conference play in a packed TBA makes me think we get this one against the Tigers, much how they stole one from us down in Louisiana last season. ​
-My prediction/running record: Win (Overall: 10-3, SEC: 1-0)

-1/7/2020 @ Missouri

-My thoughts: I am not one of the U.T. fans that dislikes Cuonzo Martin. I think he is good (not great), and believe Rick Barnes is a much better coach. That being said, we all know how difficult it is to predict the outcomes with a Martin coached squad.

The most important addition to Mizzou’s team is transfer Dru Smith, who makes his way to CoMo via the Evansville Purple Aces (what a killer mascot). Smith put up impressive stats last year [13.7 pts, 4.6 ast, 2.0 stl w/ a 3pt% at 48%]. While the competition is going to be much tougher in the SEC compared to his previous MVC foes, I still think this guy is going to come in and turn heads. ​

However, Mizzou has very little depth in the front court, and I look for them to put a small-ball line up on the floor for most games. This is a good matchup for the Vols, and I believe we take down a team with a Tiger mascot for the second straight game.
-My prediction/running record: Win (Overall: 11-3, SEC: 2-0)

-1/11/2020 vs. South Carolina

-My thoughts: South Carolina lost its most recognizable players from the last couple of years in Chris Silva and Hassani Gravett heading into the 2019-2020 season. While they return big man Malik-Kalev Kotsar (hasn’t he been in Columbia since the 90’s?) as a veteran on the team, their roster is packed with freshmen and sophomores, and I don’t think this squad will be near as good as their teams in the recent past. ​

For a third straight game, I think the Vols pull out a win. But the brakes are about to be hit on a so-far undefeated SEC run (sorry, everyone)​.
-My prediction/running record: Win (Overall: 12-3, SEC: 3-0)

-1/15/2020 @ Georgia

-My thoughts: UGA was absolutely awful last season. Somehow, they landed Anthony Edwards (#2 player overall per 247). He is a player who could easily beat some teams by himself. Playing in the Stege-saurus [Stegeman Coliseum] has always made me feel uneasy for the Vols. While our current roster is more talented that Georgia’s, I don’t think we have a consistent answer for Edwards in this one.

Credit: @TwitterMoments

I hate saying one player will make all of the difference, but after watching his film and highlights, I can see him being one of those players that can beat any team on any night pretty much on his own. He is a matchup nightmare, and PERHAPS the number one pick in next year’s NBA Draft.​

Tennessee falls to Georgia down in Athens. I hate typing that out; losing in that hideous arena and atmosphere kills me. ​
-My prediction/running record: Loss (Overall: 12-4, SEC: 3-1)

-1/18/2020 @ Vanderbilt

-My thoughts: Not going to waste your time here. We beat Vandy over in Memorial (SPOILER: We beat them in Knoxville, too.) Aaron Nesmith and Saben Lee are good players, but I am struggling to find another player on this year’s roster that would get solid

Credit: @jerrystackhouse Twitter

minutes on another SEC teams roster.  While next year may be different as former NBA journeyman Jerry Stackhouse has taken over in Nashville (and he will pull in the recruits), the flux that the program is currently in will make for another dissapointing season in the mid-state (for Vandy fans). I, for one, absolutely love beating them. ​

-My prediction/running record: Win (Overall: 13-4, SEC: 4-1)

-1/21/2020 vs. Ole Miss

-My thoughts: Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis had a true career resurgence when he was at MTSU between 2002-2018. After a 2017 where he won C-USA Coach of the Year, Davis left his rookie season in the SEC as 2019 Coach of the Year (for any of you who are keeping tabs at home, that was his 4th Coach of the Year award from 4 different conferences- pretty impressive). Aside from him, the Rebels also still have the SEC’s leading returning scorer from last season Breein Tyree. ​

Though they lost current Toronto Raptor Terence Davis, they do bring in 4 star Shooting Guard Austin Crowley. That backcourt is going to be versatile and well-coached. The Vols fall to the Rebels (what happened to that whole Black Bears/Landshark thing?) at home. ​
Credit: @RebelCoachDavis Twitter
Quick Story- I have always been one of the few U.T. fans that cared equally about basketball and football, as well as baseball for that matter. Back during the 2008-2009 season, my sister was dating a feller who also was this way. She absolutely goaded us for 40 straight minutes as Ole Miss beat us, and J.P Prince made some very questionable plays. I still hear her screech “That Prince boy ain’t no Tayshaun” (She is a big Kentucky fan). It still haunts my dreams. I have hated Ole Miss basketball ever since. This loss, should I correctly predict it, will hurt me.​
-My prediction/running record: Loss (Overall: 13-5, SEC: 4-2)

-1/25/2020 @ Kansas [Big 12/SEC Challenge]

-My thoughts: Last year, our early season game with Kansas was one of the first times I knew our team was going to be special. With a lineup that will feature Devon Dotson, Silvio De Sousa, and Udoka Azubuike, Kansas is going to be a tough out for any team, and very much a National Championship contender. ​

With Bill Self coaching so much talent and the game being played in The Phog, The Big 12 will get a notch in the left handed column in this Big 12/SEC Challenge match-up, and Tennessee will lose it’s second straight and third in four. Thankfully, a little break is on the horizon.
-My prediction/running record: Loss (13-6, 4-2)

-1/28/2020 vs. Texas A&M

-My thoughts: Buzz Williams will make a difference in College Station in the future, but this year the Aggies are going to take their lumps. Savion Flagg will have another good season, and will likely be the anchor for the team and repeat as the team’s leader in rebounding and scoring (13.9 pts, 7.7 reb). ​

With that being said, A&M is in a similar boat as Vanderbilt; only a couple of players (or in this case, one player) who would carve out meaningful minutes at another SEC program, and being under a new head coach. While the previously alluded to player and coach are both good, I don’t think they will experience much success this year. The Vols knock off the Aggies in Knoxville.  ​
-My prediction/running record: Win (14-6, 5-2)

-2/1/2020 @ Mississippi State

Credit: @Nick_Gotti0 Twitter

-My thoughts: Stop me if you have heard this before; The best player on Mississippi State’s team is a Weatherspoon. While only one is there this year, Nick (Quinndary is now in the NBA), the Bulldogs have a chance to have a good one-two punch with he and Sophomore Reggie Perry playing together. ​

While The Hump is always a tough place to play, and the Bulldogs do have some talent on the team, I see the Vols beating the boys from Starkville in an extremely ugly contest.  ​
-My prediction/running record: Win (15-6, 6-2)

-2/4/2020 @ Alabama

-My thoughts: New head coach Nate Oats has already proven that he can recruit his own players; he talked both Kira Lewis, Jr. and John Petty out of the transfer portal. He has also shown he can land a transfer-Jahvon Quinerly landed in Tuscaloosa via Villanova. While his eligibility status is still up in the air, Lewis, Jr. and Petty are two very good basketball players. Add Quinerly to the mix, you could be looking at an SEC Championship contending team.​

Under leadership that isn’t Avery Jackson (if you can call what he did “leadership”), I believe Alabama may be on the rise in basketball. I think the Tide knock the Vols off here.​
-My prediction/running record: Loss (15-7, 6-3)

-2/8/2020 vs. Kentucky

-My thoughts: This year’s Wildcats are going to look a little different. Head Coach John Calipari has a few returners on the roster, and most of them are good players. I don’t think U.K. is necessarily a NATIONAL Championship contender this year, but they are a Conference Championship contender.​

Credit: @UKCoachCalipari

Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery will be the best front-court duo in the SEC. That is what will give Tennessee the most trouble in this matchup. HOWEVER, Tennessee has proven something to me in the last few years; we beat Kentucky. I think U.K. is much too good to be swept by the Vols this year, but I do think we split the series.​

I will say we win this game in Knoxville.
-My prediction/running record: Win (16-7, 7-3)

-2/11/2020 vs. Arkansas

-My thoughts: Like U.K., I believe Arkansas is another team we will split the season series with. Eric Musselman has brought in a handful of transfers and effectively turned the roster over. It is hard to see this Razorbacks team coming together too strongly, so I say we beat them in TBA.

-My prediction/running record: Win (17-7, 8-3)

-2/15/2020 @ South Carolina

-My thoughts: As above, so below. With Kotsar being the only returner I would really worry about, and UNC transfer Seventh Woods not being available until next year, U.T. will walk into Colonial Life with confidence and walk out with a win. ​

-My prediction/running record: Win (18-7, 9-3)

-2/18/2020 vs. Vanderbilt

-My thoughts: As I pointed out earlier in the article, we beat Vandy. TBA always gets a little more raucous for rivalry games, and I think we sweep the Commodores. They will finish 2019-2020 towards the bottom of the SEC.​

-My prediction/running record: Win (19-7, 10-3)

-2/22/2020 @ Auburn

-My thoughts: On a lot of the preseason projections I have seen, Bruce Pearl’s Tigers are picked to finish in the top quarter of the conference. I for one do not buy this.

Credit: @coachbrucepearl Twitter

They will still live and die by the three (they lived by it last year making it all the way to the Final Four), but that is not a sustainable plan of success. Also, take a look at the list of players that Auburn will have lost from that 2018-2019 season; Cole Blackstock, Bryce Brown, Malik Dunbar, Jared Harper, Chuma Okeke, and Horace Spencer. If you can name any other players from last year’s team, you watch entirely too much Auburn basketball. ​

Vols win this one on The Plains. ​
-My prediction/running record: Win (20-7, 11-3)

-2/26/2020 @ Arkansas

-My thoughts: I’ve already discussed how I feel about Arkansas. We have a more talented roster, but I never feel confident going into Fayette-Nam and winning on the hardwood. 40 Minutes of Hell will prove to still be a thing (somehow), and the Vols will start this final stretch of games with a loss to the Hogs.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons (Bud Walton Arena)

-My prediction/running record: Loss (20-8, 11-4)

-2/29/2020 vs. Florida

-My thoughts: Florida. Florida, Florida, Florida. Mike White has added five stars Scottie Lewis (#7 player overall per 247) and Tre Mann (#21 player overall/#2 PG per 247) to the program. Andrew Nembhardt is one of the more impressive returning sophomores in the SEC. And who can forget that the Gators won the Kerry Blackshear, Jr sweepstakes?​

Credit: @AndrewNembhard Twitter

I said outright that whoever (U.F., U.K., or U.T.) landed Blackshear, Jr. was going to also win the SEC. Ergo, I think Florida will win the SEC. I think in our one matchup with the Gators this year, we lose.

-My prediction/running record: Loss (20-9, 11-5)

-3/3/2020 @ Kentucky

-My thoughts: As I mentioned earlier, I think we split with the Cats this year. I think it is more likely that we lose at Rupp (and with Rupperees, that only makes me more apt to say that) than in TBA. So in our penulimate game of the season, I believe we drop this one in Lexington.​

-My prediction/running record: Loss (20-10, 11-6)

-3/7/2020 vs. Auburn

-My thoughts: We beat Auburn in our finale! Again, Auburn’s returning roster and their incoming players are not impressive. Now could they again go on a 3 point shooting spree and stay hot? Yes. But I am not a believer in lightning striking twice, and last year Auburn caught it in a bottle. I always love winning the home finale and sending the seniors out with a regular season W, and it will be good to see it this year.

-My prediction/running record: Win (21-10, 12-6)

The conclusion

So there you have it. I think The Vols hit the 20 win mark in the 2019-2020 season, and earn a trip to the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid. We may not reach the number one ranking or ever really crack the top ten this upcoming season, but making the tournament at all will be a solid accomplishment for Rick Barnes and this team! Finally, the future of this team is looking pretty bright if you look at the next cycle’s recruits!

Be sure to check out all of the great content from the rest of the writers/fellow Vol fans over at MoreImportantIssues! Until Next time…Bye!

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Author Details
Content Creator at Armchair Tennessee , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
My name is Dakota Robertson, and I cover the Tennessee Volunteers. I am a fourth-year medical student, and a lifelong East Tennessee resident. I have a wonderful wife (Lauren), beautiful daughter (Everly), and the best dog in the known universe (James Taylor). I have been a U.T. fan since the beginning, and still get chills when I hear John Ward. I believe Pat Summitt’s stare could have ended or prevented several wars and conflicts, and that Fulmer is the greatest coach in the history of football. I mostly concern myself with football, basketball, and baseball, but will become the biggest fan of any sport for a few hours if the Big Orange is involved. I hope you enjoy what content I put out, and be sure to tip your waiter/waitress. Excited to have you come #TakeASeat with me! Go Vols!
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Content Creator at Armchair Tennessee , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
My name is Dakota Robertson, and I cover the Tennessee Volunteers. I am a fourth-year medical student, and a lifelong East Tennessee resident. I have a wonderful wife (Lauren), beautiful daughter (Everly), and the best dog in the known universe (James Taylor). I have been a U.T. fan since the beginning, and still get chills when I hear John Ward. I believe Pat Summitt’s stare could have ended or prevented several wars and conflicts, and that Fulmer is the greatest coach in the history of football. I mostly concern myself with football, basketball, and baseball, but will become the biggest fan of any sport for a few hours if the Big Orange is involved. I hope you enjoy what content I put out, and be sure to tip your waiter/waitress. Excited to have you come #TakeASeat with me! Go Vols!

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