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No. 20: Tennessee Volunteers


2009-10 record: 28-9 (11-5), third in SEC East
Lost to Michigan State in Elite Eight
Coach: Bruce Pearl, 126-46, 5 years (443-130 overall)
Last NCAA miss: 2005
2010-11 roster [click here]
2010-11 schedule [click here]

The good: The Vols’ defense should once again be nasty. They lose three starters, include invaluable post Wayne Chism, but that means more time for massive center Brian Williams and freshman Tobias Harris, a skilled 6-8 forward some think play like Larry Bird. (Nothing like a little hyperbole.)

Melvin Goins steps in at the point, which is a good thing. He’s only worried about passing and playing defense. And the more shots junior Cameron Tatum can take - instead of junior Scotty Hopson - the better.

The bad: It’s tempting to talk about Bruce Pearl’s recent NCAA woes, but let’s face it - the guy can coach. He proved as much when the Vols didn’t miss a beat last season despite using just six scholarship players at one point.

The Vols’ real problem will finding anyone who can consistently stroke the 3 or hit free throws. Both will be an issue throughout the season as Tatum’s the only one who can do both very well.

The unknown: OK, back to Pearl. The coach loves the limelight and has elevated Tennessee to new basketball heights. He’s never missed the NCAA tournament while in Knoxville, a feat few thought possible.

But the NCAA violations will loom over the program all season, even if no further action is taken. How much can the team stand?

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.