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Countdown to Tipoff: Previewing uga, Tennessee, and East Carolina

Tennessee and georgia will be big non-conference tests for the Jackets.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Volunteers

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Tennessee vs Loyola Chicago Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Knoxville, TN

2017-2018 Record: 26-9, 13-5 in SEC

Head Coach: Rick Barnes, 57-44 at Tennessee, 661-358 Overall

Best Season: 2010 – Elite Eight

Record vs. Jackets: 44-28

Pre-Season pick: 6th in Pre-season AP Poll

Leading returning scorer: Grant Williams, 15.2 point per game

For fans that haven’t been following college basketball too closely in recent seasons, it might be surprising to see Tennessee sitting at #6 in the preseason AP poll. However, Rick Barnes has quietly put together one of the best teams in the nation after greatly exceeding expectations a season ago. The #6 ranking is the highest in Tennessee history, and is certainly deserved. The Vols return 12 players from last seasons SEC championship winning team that finished 26-9 on the year. While everyone on this team contributes in their own way, the two key players to watch are Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams. Williams, last seasons SEC player of the year, is projected by many to win the award again while Schofield, an absolute freak athlete, might have the most well rounded game of anyone on the team. This will be the final game of a four year series between these two teams, a series which Tennessee currently leads 2-1. With Tennessee looking like one of the strongest teams in the nation this season, it will be a tall order for the Jackets when they head to Knoxville November 13.

georgia Bulldogs

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Kentucky vs Georgia Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Athens, GA

2017-2018 Record: 18-15, 7-11 in SEC

Head Coach: Tom Crean, 0-0 at uga, 356-231 Overall

Best Season: 1983 – Final Four

Record vs. Jackets: 89-105

Pre-Season pick: Unranked in Pre-season AP Poll

Leading returning scorer: William Jackson II, 8.4 points per game

Mark Fox is out and Tom Crean is in. Crean will have his hands full in Athens year one after the Bulldogs lose leading scorer, leading rebounder, and All-SEC selection Yante Maten. No returning player averaged more than 10 points per game a season ago, although the Bulldogs do have a plethora of experience, with five seniors on the roster. With limited offensive weapons, the Bulldogs will rely heavily on defense and playing with a physical style of play. While Tech leads the overall series, the Bulldogs have won three in a row and the Jackets desperately need a win to regain the bragging rights of this in-state rivalry.

East Carolina

NCAA Basketball: East Carolina at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Greenville, NC

2017-2018 Record: 10-20, 4-14 in AAC

Head Coach: Joe Dooley, 0-0 at ECU, 171-110 Overall

Best Season: 1972, 1993 – NCAA Appearance

Record vs. Jackets: 1-3

Pre-Season pick: Unranked in Pre-season AP poll

Leading returning scorer: Isaac Fleming, 12.5 points per game

When these two teams meet in Atlanta this season, it will be their first matchup since 1994. Like georgia, East Carolina will be breaking in a new head coach, though one fans are already familiar with. Dooley previously coached at ECU and now makes a return 19 years later after a successful five year run at Florida Gulf Coast, in which he compiled a 114–58 record. The Pirates will be looking to improve upon a 10-20 record a season ago, but it will not be easy with an extremely young squad. The East Carolina roster has just one senior, one junior, and nine underclassmen, in addition to losing last years leading scorer BJ Tyson. Isaac Fleming, the lone senior on the roster and the leading returning scorer for the Pirates, will be called upon to play a big role this season.