Aug. 10, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Given the go-ahead by the Southeastern Conference office to release the SEC portion of its 2012-13 schedule, the Tennessee basketball team announced its complete slate of games for the upcoming season.
Not taking into account Tennessee's potential opponents at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, here are some interesting notes about the Vols' 2012-13 schedule:
· at least 17 games against teams that won 20 or more games last season
· at least 13 games against teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last season (and at least seven games against teams who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen)
· at least 12 games against teams with a top-50 RPI last season
· conference clashes against first-year SEC member schools Texas A&M (in College Station, Texas) and Missouri (in Knoxville)
· first-ever matchups with Kennesaw State and Presbyterian
· Tennessee will not play in Gainesville, Fla., for the first time since the Kennedy administration occupied The White House (the 1962-63 season)
Head coach Cuonzo Martin's second season with the Volunteers includes 16 regular-season home games in addition to one home exhibition contest against Memphis-based Victory University on Monday, Nov. 5.
"This schedule is very challenging, but I believe that's the type of schedule a true competitor wants to play," Martin said. "Our home schedule is really impressive, and that's what you want for your fans - especially a fan base like ours, which is truly one of the best in America.
"We're going to have some tough games early on, and that will be a good test to see how we stand heading into the SEC portion of the schedule. We're a more experienced team this year, so as a staff you feel a little better about what to expect. Our team had a small taste of success at times last year, but I don't think anyone was satisfied with the final outcome. The core of this team knows what can be achieved when we play Tennessee basketball."
The regular-season tips off Friday, Nov. 9, when Tennessee hosts Kennesaw State at Thompson-Boling Arena. A victory would give the Vols 20 straight wins in home-openers dating to the 1992-93 season.
Martin then takes the Vols to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to compete in a Puerto Rico Tip-Off field that includes Akron, UMass, NC State, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Providence and UNC Asheville. Tennessee is one of four teams in the field that finished the 2011-12 season with a top-100 RPI, and all eight team finished last season in the top 160. NC State and UNC Asheville each made the NCAA Tournament last year, while the Vols, Akron and UMass earned NIT bids.
Upon returning to Rocky Top, the Big Orange host Oakland Nov. 26 before back-to-back road tests at Georgetown - as part of the 2012 SEC/Big East Challenge - Nov. 30 and at Virginia Dec. 5. The Hoyas and Cavaliers both reached the NCAA Tournament a season ago and totaled 24 and 22 wins, respectively.
From Dec. 13 through Jan. 9, the Vols settle in to Knoxville for a six-game homestand - the program's longest since opening the 1997-98 season with eight consecutive home games. Opponents during that stretch are Wichita State (Dec. 13), Presbyterian (Dec. 18), Western Carolina (Dec. 21), Xavier (Dec. 29), Memphis (Jan. 4) and Ole Miss (Jan. 9). Tennessee is off for holiday break from Dec. 30 through Jan. 3.
The tilts against Wichita State and Xavier signal the first contests of a home-and-home series with each program. The Vols will visit each school during the 2013-14 season. The Shockers won 27 games last season and posted a final RPI of 18, while Xavier won 23 contests en route to an NCAA Sweet Sixteen berth and a final RPI of 38.
The clash with in-state rival Memphis is the final game of the series under the current contract. The programs have met annually for each of the past seven seasons, alternating home games every year. Tennessee leads the all-time series 14-9, dating to 1969.
SEC play, contested under an 18-game format for the first-time since conference expansion begins for UT on Jan. 9 when the Vols host Ole Miss.
Ole Miss is one of five teams that Tennessee will face twice this season. The Vols' other home-and-home foes are Alabama, Georgia, defending national champion Kentucky and "permanent rival" Vanderbilt.
Tennessee's other home SEC games are against Florida, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri. The Vols will face Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina and Texas A&M once each on the road.
There are two significant schedule changes for Tennessee under the SEC's new scheduling format: South Carolina will not come to Knoxville for the first time since the 1991-92 season; Tennessee will not play Florida in Gainesville, Fla., for the first time since the Kennedy administration occupied The White House (the 1962-63 season).
While Vol fans will have to wait to see demonstrative and expressive first-year South Carolina head coach Frank Martin in Thompson-Boling Arena, this season does present the Big Orange faithful with their first opportunity to see first-year SEC head coaches Rick Ray (Mississippi State), Johnny Jones (LSU) and Frank Haith (Missouri) in Knoxville.
Nashville hosts the 2012 SEC Tournament March 14-17 at Bridgestone Arena.
For the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Dayton, Ohio, once again serves as the host city of the first round. Second- and third-round host cities include Auburn Hills, Mich., Lexington, Ky., Salt Lake City, Utah, San Jose, Calif., Austin, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, Kansas City, Mo., and Philadelphia, Pa.
Los Angeles, Calif., Indianapolis, Ind., Arlington, Texas, and Washington D.C. are host cities for the NCAA Regional rounds, and the Final Four takes place at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.