In a rare top 15 preseason matchup, Tennessee basketball will take the court Friday night to face the Gonzaga Bulldogs on a neutral court. Rick Barnes’ eight team will provide the public with a first glimpse into what it could look like as the season progresses.
The Vols come into this matchup ranked No. 11 in both preseason polls after being upset in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 last year against the Michigan Wolverines. They are defending SEC Tournament Champions, which they won for the first time in 43 years back in March.
Mark Few’s team, meanwhile, comes in ranked No. 2 in both polls on the heels of being upset in the Sweet 16 by the Arkansas Razorbacks last year. Here is all the information you need for Tennessee basketball’s first exhibition matchup of 2022-23.
This is the Legends of Basketball Classic Exhibition Game. Pay-per-view pricing should be $9.99. Proceeds from the event go to the McLendon Foundation, which is focused on developing minorities interested in leadership roles in athletics.
Barnes and Few are two of the most respected coaches who continue to chase that ever-elusive first national title. Few returns three of five starters, most notable West Coast Conference Player of the Year Drew Timme and elite NBA prospect Julian Strawther.
Rocky Top lost guard Kennedy Chandler to the NBA and both centers, John Fulkerson and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, to graduation and transfer respectively. However, they return two starters and five rotational players, plus they have added three elite recruits and a transfer.
As a result, both teams enter this year with high expectations. It’s hard to say exactly what this game will reveal about either of them, but it has to be a benefit for them to play in one of such high magnitude even if it means nothing just to see where they are.
After this game, Tennessee basketball will open the season 10 days later against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Gonzaga will open the season the same night against the North Florida Osprey. The Vols last played Gonzaga in the regular season in 2018-19, a game they won when Gonzaga was No. 1.