Things are already looking pretty tough for Tennessee basketball heading into the 2021-2022 season. The Vols are playing in a loaded SEC that includes the Alabama Crimson Tide, Kentucky Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks and Auburn Tigers as all likely top 25 teams.
UT’s non-conference slate is only making it harder. They already have the Villanova Wildcats and either North Carolina Tar Heels or Purdue Boilermakers in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament the weekend before Thanksgiving. The Memphis Tigers in Nashville are on the slate for December.
Now, Tennessee basketball has added another non-conference opponent for December. The Vols are reportedly slated to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. CBS Insider Jon Rothstein tweeted out the story over the weekend.
Although Texas Tech will be led by new head coach Mark Adams, this is still a program that’s rolling right now. They qualified for four straight NCAA Tournaments under now-Texas Longhorns head coach Chris Beard, including an Elite Eight appearance and an NCAA Tournament runner-up. We’re counting 2019-2020 since they would’ve made it that year.
After going 18-11 and making the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 this past year, they lost leading scorer Mac McClung to the NBA Draft. Kyle Edwards transferred to the Houston Cougars. However, Terrence Shannon declared for the draft but is still retaining his college eligibility, and Kevin McCuller and super senior Marcus Santos-Silva are both back.
Meanwhile, the Red Raiders have added Florida State Seminoles transfer Sardaar Calhoun, Arizona Wildcats transfer Daniel Batcho and Hampton Pirates transfer Davion Warren, who averaged over 21 points last year. Simply put, this team has talent.
Taking all this into account, TTU is likely to still be incredibly tough. Rick Barnes may have a loaded team once again, but this non-conference slate will make things brutal. However, that’s probably what Tennessee basketball needs to develop and get ready for the stretch run in SEC play next year. It’s clear the Vols aren’t ducking anybody.