Tennessee basketball will make ESPN programming history when it hosts the first men’s and women’s doubleheader featured as part of College GameDay on Jan. 15 against Vanderbilt in Thompson-Boling Arena.
The UT men tip off against the Commodores at noon while the Lady Vols play Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. Both games will be televised by ESPN.
“The fact ESPN is coming in to do a doubleheader shows that Tennessee has the best basketball program in the country, led by Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols,’’ UT men’s coach Bruce Pearl said. “As for our men’s program, we said when we came here we wanted to be elite.’’
Indeed, the Vols will have the longest streak of ESPN College GameDay appearances in the nation when GameDay returns to Knoxville for the fourth consecutive season and first time since Tennessee beat Florida, 79-63, in 2009.
“Four GameDay appearances, three Sweet 16s and an Elite 8, the longest running streak of NCAA appearances (five) in the SEC and the fourth-highest attendance in the nation ...’’ Pearl said, “are indicators of where our program is at.’’
Summitt’s eight-time national championship program has been at the top for decades. The event marks only the second time in the history of the college basketball version of GameDay that a women’s game has been featured. Notre Dame played at Connecticut last year.
“It’s very exciting for us, and obviously great exposure for our programs,’’ Summitt said. “It doesn’t happen all the time, so it’s special when GameDay comes to Knoxville.’’
College GameDay features show host Rece Davis with returning analysts Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, Hubert Davis and Bob Knight.
There will be two editions of the College GameDay show in Knoxville on Jan. 15, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
“With the fan passion and dedication for its men’s and women’s programs, Tennessee was a natural fit to be our doubleheader site,’’ Nick Dawson, director, ESPN programming and acquisitions, said in a release. “We are confident the university and Coach Pearl and Coach Summitt will have the fans fired up and ready to go for GameDay and the national game telecasts.’’
The Lady Vols have won 20 of the past 21 meetings with Vanderbilt, including a three-game sweep last season capped by a decisive 68-49 win in the SEC tournament.
The Vols look to avenge Vanderbilt’s sweep last season, the first since Pearl took over the UT program six years ago.
Worth Noting: The Vols are 2-1 in GameDay appearances, winning at then-No. 1 Memphis in what was then the most-watched ESPN basketball game, 66-62 in 2008, beating Florida 79-63 in Knoxville in 2009 and falling to Kentucky 73-62 last year in Lexington.
The Vols attained the longest GameDay streak when North Carolina and UCLA were not included in this year’s scheduling.