All-time Tennessee March Madness starting lineup

Tennessee men's basketball has made quite a few trips to the NCAA Tournament but has never gone deep into March Madness. This team could be the best chance and a few of the 2024 players could become all-time greats.

Tennessee forward Grant Williams (2)
Tennessee forward Grant Williams (2) / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel
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Small forward: Ernie Grunfeld

Ernie was more of a forward at Tennessee, but played small forward and even shooting guard in the NBA at 6-foot-6. He’ll be the perfect wing for this team, though he may not provide much shooting. Grunfeld played before the advent of the three-point line in college basketball with his career spanning from 1973-77. 

In those four seasons, Grunfeld was named All-SEC four times and posted a career average of 22.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. He too will make up for the lack of playmaking at point guard in this lineup. 

For his NCAA Tournament career, Grunfeld led Tennessee there in 1976 and 1977, but was bounced in the first round both times. So how did he crack this list with two career games in March Madness?

Well, in 1976 Grunfeld went for 36 points, eight rebounds, and three steals in a loss to VMI. Then, the next season, he posted a statline of 26 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists in a loss to Syracuse. 

Grunfeld may have not taken the Vols on a deep tournament run, but he did produce well above his career averages in both of his tournament games and is deserving of the small forward spot. Bernard King was Grunfeld’s teammate in 1976-77 and scored scored 23 points with 12 rebounds against Syracuse, but he turned the ball over nine times and never played another tournament game. This could be Dalton Knecht’s for the taking after the 2024 tourney.