Originally written on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 11/8/14
Coming off a first-round loss in the NIT, a preseason ranking in the top 25 is a steep rise in expectations for Tennessee. On paper, they have the ability to live up to this ranking. But when I think of the Volunteers, the alliterative word that comes to mind is "volatile." The team's two biggest contributors from a year ago, Jordan McRae (15.7 PPG) and Jarnell Stokes (12.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG), are back. Trae Golden is gone, having transferred to Georgia Tech. The Volunteers will expect Memphis transfer Antonio Barton to fill his shoes, but there's no guarantee that happens. The transition to a new team may not be so smooth, and as College Basketball Talk's Rob Dauster points out, Barton was never the primary ball-handler for the Tigers. Don't get me wrong; Barton is talented and will make this team better. Just don't expect too much from a guy who has averaged just 1.5 APG in his career, yet is expected to be the facilitator of the offense. It also doesn't help that Barton's backcourt mate, Robert Hubbs, will be a freshman. According to ESPN's scouting report (subscription needed) Hubbs's "ability to grasp the lead guard spot will be his growth experience." So I don't foresee Barton getting much help from Hubbs when it comes to distributing the ball, although both will be able to put it in the basket. If things go well for the Volunteers, they could be a serious threat to a high seed in March. As for the front court, the Vols are hoping Jeronne Maymon can team up with Stokes to form a strong duo inside. It's entirely possible, as Maymon averaged 12.7 PPG and 8.1 RPG when he last played. But that was the 2011-12 season, before knee injuries kept him off the court all of last season. The starting five will be pressured to produce results unless anyone on the bench steps up as a key contributor. Skylar McBee, last year's sixth man, graduated. Josh Richardson, this year's likely sixth man, played starter's minutes last year (30.7 MPG) but managed just 7.9 PPG. With less playing time coming his way this season, Tennessee's best bench player won't be much of a factor. This team has talent, but I'm hesitant to say everything will work out smoothly over the course of the season. Barton won't be the ideal point guard for this offense, Hubbs may have some growing pains, and Maymon's injury history will loom over the team until he can prove his durability. If things go well for the Volunteers, they could be a serious threat to a high seed in March. If things fall apart, missing the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season may not be out of the question. But let's split the difference; say the backcourt starts slowly but comes on late, and Maymon misses a few games but plays a majority of the season. If something along those lines occurs, I think Tennessee can safely call itself the third best team in the SEC and earn a tournament seed in the upper half of the bracket. From there, anything can happen. I know one thing, though: this season will be interesting for the Volunteers. Quite volatile, indeed.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

MLBPA reacts to Kris Bryant's minor league assignment

Gregg Marshall's show canceled, Bama speculation grows

Report: Shaka Smart in discussions with Texas

Report: Rick Barnes expected to land at Tennessee

Demaryius Thomas planning to skip Broncos' workouts

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rockets GM: We think we can win NBA title despite injuries

Browns GM Ray Farmer suspended over text messages

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box after murder

Byron Scott: Opposing players say they want to play for Lakers

Falcons reportedly will lose pick over pumping in crowd noise

Report: Sam Bradford wouldn't sign extension with Browns

WATCH: Stars' Patrik Nemeth catches puck inside visor

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

University of California soccer player found dead

Joe Namath parties with twin 100 year-old women

WATCH: Mike Napoli hits home run as bat shatters

WATCH: Marc Gasol misses shot, rips jersey in disgust

PHOTO: Minor league team to wear Jabba the Hutt jerseys

Lions LB DeAndre Levy takes ride on top of a moving plane

Colts owner addresses Indiana religious freedom bill

John Calipari addresses controversial ND comments

Arizona coach Sean Miller rips critics: 'Go cheer for ASU'

Report: NFL could push extra point back to 15-yard line

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

Namath parties with 100 yr-old women

Report: Shaka Smart talking to Texas

Rick Barnes to land at Tennessee?

Browns GM suspended for texts

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.