Vols have the pieces for a Final Four puzzle
We're not going with a typical, run-of-the-mill top 25 rundown each day. Instead, we'll cut to the chase and tell you who will be left standing at the end of the season in the Elite Eight.
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We've hit on the first seven in no particular order — and this one is No. 8. Sunday we'll unveil my complete bracket just before the start of the season on Nov. 9. I had the championship game right last year, but incorrectly picked Michigan State to beat North Carolina.
I have a good feeling about my bracket this time around.
The Vols became a legitimate Final Four contender the day Tyler Smith opted to return to school.
With Smith and practically everyone else in Bruce Pearl's rotation from a year ago back in the fold, Tennessee will have the talent and depth to compete with just about anyone.
Despite all of the attention in the SEC focused on Kentucky, the Vols certainly have enough talent to make a Final Four run.
1. Experience: Pearl has his top seven guys back in the fold from a team that won 21 games last season. All five starters return.
2. Versatility The Vols have talented guards, wings and big men. They can go big with Wayne Chism and Brian Williams or have the ability to play smaller with Smith at power forward, Scotty Hopson at the three and J.P. Prince at shooting guard.
3. Maze and Hopson: Point guard Bobby Maze and Hopson, a sophomore, now have a year in the Vols' system and should be far more comfortable. Maze was passive at times last season, while Hopson was inconsistent.