Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Colorado

Lineup notes

Colorado:

  • No KenPom depth chart yet, simply because their second-best player was out and that seems important.
  • Taking a guess here, because a main starter’s been missing…Wright, Parquet, Schwartz, Daniels, Walton? Maybe? The first three feel like near-locks.
  • Obviously, lineups this early in the season are kind of meaningless stats-wise, but I do think it’s worth noting the Wright, Parquet, Daniels, Battey, Walker lineup is already +12 in just 20 possessions together.
  • I’m very curious to see the Battey/Walton lineups for Colorado. These have already gotten more run than they did last year, which is curious, as they were pretty disastrous in a small sample size in 2019-20 defensively. Having two guys that can’t move well on the court is not ideal against any team with four (or more) shooters.

Tennessee:

  • No depth chart to go off of, but Vescovi, Keon Johnson, James, Pons, and Fulkerson is the rumored starting lineup per those that go to the practices.
  • It’s the first game of the season, so I feel like a moron making any bets, but I would imagine you can expect all of Jaden Springer, Victor Bailey, and E.J. Anosike to get serious playing time (15+ minutes for each, maybe?) against Colorado.
  • As covered in the season preview, I want to see how much time Tennessee gives four-shooter lineups with one man “in,” AKA Fulkerson or Anosike. These seem like an obvious advantage to Tennessee any time Colorado throws out a double-big lineup. Tennessee can counter the double-big lineups simply by having Pons and Fulkerson on the court at the same time.

Key matchups

Santiago Vescovi vs. McKinley Wright. For what it’s worth, I think Barnes should immediately put Vescovi on Parquet (the very low-usage shooter) every time he’s on the court and leave Wright duties to James. Still, this will be a telling battle. How much discomfort can Tennessee’s defense give Wright in ball-screen sets, and how much discomfort can Wright give Vescovi on the other end?

Uhhh…Keon Johnson? James? Pons? vs. D’Shawn Schwartz. I also don’t know who’s drawing this assignment, but I do know it could be useful to guard Colorado’s most prolific shooter. Schwartz is a solid team defender, but nothing truly electrifying individually. I’d like to see what Johnson could do against him in space.

John Fulkerson vs. Evan Battey. This would be Walton, but Walton hasn’t topped 15 minutes in a game yet. Fulkerson has a unique matchup in Battey, a player that does a great job on the boards and draws a lot of fouls while occasionally popping out for a three. Battey may be Fulkerson’s most rotund battle of the year at 6’8”, 262 pounds.

Three predictions

  1. Tennessee forces Colorado’s highest turnover rate of the season (16.8% or higher).
  2. Colorado’s leading scorer doesn’t get to 20 points, whoever it may be.
  3. Tennessee 71, Colorado 65.

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