SI.com pegs UT No. 6 in hoops

Now that all of the underclassman defections to the NBA have been announced, the dust has cleared a bit on the college basketball landscape … leaving Tennessee among the top 10 teams in the game.

At least, that's the contention of sportsillustrated.com's Luke Winn. In an article at SI.com's college basketball page entitled "Early Returns," Winn pegs Tennessee No. 6 nationally in his power ratings for 2007-08. Interestingly, he rates the Vols the second-best team in the state behind Memphis.

Regardless, Winn's top five are as follows:

1. North Carolina

2. UCLA

3. Memphis

4. Louisville

5. Kansas

Here's what Winn has to say in explaining his pick of Tennessee at No. 6:

The Vols could soon have as many Smiths (Ramar, JaJuan and potential Iowa transfer Tyler) as Carolina had Williamses in 2005 (Jawad, Marvin and Roy). The key Smith next season will be Ramar, who could be primed for a breakout. The learning curve for a freshman point guard is much less steep than for, say, a freshman quarterback, but I wonder how much Ramar was set back by arriving in Knoxville after fall classes had already begun last year. Basketball practice had not officially started, but 99.9 percent of recruits arrive on campus for the summer semester and get in four months of workouts/acclimation before Midnight Madness. Understandably, Smith looked uncomfortable at the point in November, but started to show glimpses of his talent late in the season. In his final game this year, he shot 6-of-10 from the field against Ohio State and dished out four assists without a turnover. Was that a sign of great things to come?

Only one other SEC team made Winn's 16-team power ratings list. Arkansas checks in at No. 12. LSU missed the top 16 but is mentioned among a group of teams considered "On The Cusp."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories