Tennessee basketball will reportedly face the Kansas Jayhawks in the SEC/Big 12 challenge. With head coach Rick Barnes, that’s bad for the Volunteers.
When you finish at the top of a conference, you earn a match-up with the top team from other conferences in college basketball challenges. Such is the case with Tennessee basketball heading into the 2019-2010 season.
The Vols will reportedly face the Kansas Jayhawks in the SEC/Big 12 challenge. Last year, they lucked out with a home game against the West Virginia Mountaineers. This year, they have to go on the road.
UT and Kansas both failed to win their conferences last year, but it was a first in a long time for Bill Self’s Jayhawks. College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein of CBS announced the matchups on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.
This is bad news for Tennessee basketball. After losing in the challenge his first year as head coach, Rick Barnes has won each of the last three years, beating the Kansas State Wildcats 70-58 in 2016-2017, the Iowa State Cyclones on the road 68-45 in 2018-2019, and WVU 83-66 while ranked No. 1 this past year.
But Kansas is a different story. Nobody owns Barnes like Self. This was evident last year alone. The Vols ended up with the significantly better team, but in the Preseason NIT, Self’s Jayhawks beat UT in overtime.
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That was a continuation of his ownership over Barnes from their Big 12 days. After taking over for Roy Williams in 2003, Self has 17-6 against Barnes, 16-6 when the two were in the Bg 12. He also never finished ahead of the Jayhawks in the Big 12 standings after Self’s first year while coaching with the Texas Longhorns, only tying him twice, in 2005-2006 and 2007-2008.
Simply put, the Jayhawks were always in Barnes’s way. And now he has to face them for a second tim as the head coach of an SEC team. Will it be any different now for Tennessee basketball? There’s no reason to believe that’s the case.
Self’s ownership of Barnes was taken to another level this decade. Since the start of 2010, he has won 10 of 12 against Barnes, and he has won nine of the last 10 meetings against Barnes. Compound all of this with the fact that this game is going to be at Kansas, where Barnes has only won twice, and that the Vols lost four of five starters from last year, and this could get ugly.
The Vols as a program have not fared much better against the Jayhawks. They have played each other four times, with Kansas winning three, including both this decade. However, one of the most memorable wins in school history did come against Kansas, and that was back in the 2009-2010 season.
Days after multiple players were suspended, Tennessee basketball used multiple walk-ons and delivered Bruce Pearl a major upset over Kansas when they were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Perhaps something like that could happen this upcoming year. But Barnes’s history tells a much different story.