Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl has made scheduling quality teams a priority since he took over the Vols' program four years ago, and this year's slate shows more of the same.
UT won't release its full schedule until the SEC portion is released over the next month - TV times are still being worked out - but the Vols' non-conference contests are taking shape.
The Vols' marquee game will be Jan. 9 when the Kansas Jayhawks make their first trip ever to Knoxville.
UT played in historic Allen Fieldhouse last season, falling to the Jayhawks, 92-85.
But the Kansas game is just the icing on the cake; the Vols also will play at rival Memphis and in Los Angeles against former Vols coach Kevin O'Neill, who now heads up the Southern Cal program.
The dates for the Memphis and Southern Cal games have not been set, which indicates they might be played after the SEC season starts as national television would dictate.
"I think it's a great game with two schools with the athletic tradition of USC and UT,'' O'Neill said in a recent interview on the Sports Page radio show. "Mike Hamilton has done a good job of taking their basketball up another level. It's a good job for Bruce, and I'm sure he'll stay there for a long time. He's really made an impact in the SEC.
"Did you tell Bruce we're not coming back to Knoxville next year? We're going to break the contract.''
O'Neill was joking, but the rest of UT's schedule is no laughing matter.
The Vols also play Middle Tennessee State in Nashville this season and will play host to Wyoming.
Tony Jones, the Vols' associate head coach, said the schedule has been drawn up with the RPI ratings in mind.
"We try to play top programs that are picked to finish at or near the top of their league,'' Jones said. "It's about the competition and the RPI.''
North Carolina A&T also is on the schedule.
It appears the Vols will open the season against Austin Peay at Thompson-Boling Arena on Nov. 13, the first time the teams have met since 2000.
Pearl, who struggled to get games scheduled with powers Wisconsin and Marquette when he was at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has made it a point to try to play in-state teams and give them opportunities.
The Vols play UNC-Asheville in Knoxville on Nov. 17 before playing host to College of Charleston on Nov. 27 and East Tennessee State on Dec. 2. UNC-Charlotte visits Jan. 6.
Tennessee plays in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam tournament Nov. 20-23, opening against East Carolina.