It remains to be seen if Tennessee can win a ninth women's basketball national championship under coach Pat Summitt, but the Lady Vols stand a chance of regaining the crown for having the toughest schedule in the country.
UT, which had the No. 1-ranked schedule in the country four consecutive seasons (2005-06 through 2008-09, according to RealTimeRpi.com), faces 20 opponents that participated in postseason play last season.
"We'll see a couple of new opponents in Pepperdine and Miami (Fla.) and travel to play 2011 Final Four teams Notre Dame and Stanford on their home courts,'' said Summitt in a UT release on Tuesday. "I think our great fans will be treated to a tremendous home schedule this season, and I'm thrilled that we have the opportunity for 17 home dates in our arena.''
The Lady Vols begin play with a Nov. 1 exhibition in Thompson-Boling Arena against Division II Carson-Newman and a Nov. 8 home exhibition with NAIA national champion Union University.
UT's regular season gets under way on Nov. 13 at home against Pepperdine before Miami comes to Knoxville for a Nov. 15 meeting in the State Farm Tipoff.
The first meeting with the Hurricanes represents the 187th opponent in Lady Vols' basketball history.
Tennessee's November schedule includes a road game at Virginia (Nov. 20) and a home game against Baylor (Nov. 27).
UT's nonconference home slate also includes dates with Texas (Dec. 4) and Old Dominion (Dec. 28).
In addition to facing Final Four teams Notre Dame and Stanford on the road, the Lady Vols will travel to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 11 to play DePaul in the Maggie Dixon Classic and then play at Rutgers on Dec. 13.
UT plays at UCLA on (Dec. 17) to start a West Coast swing that includes Stanford (Dec. 20).
The Lady Vols scheduled the game against the Bruins when former UT player Nikki Caldwell was still the UCLA coach. Instead, Summitt will match up with Caldwell on Jan. 19 in Thompson-Boling Arena, as the former Lady Vol is now coach at LSU.
Tennessee opens the new year and the SEC season at Auburn on Jan. 1 leading up to the Jan. 23 road trip to face Notre Dame.
"This is an exciting schedule for the coming year,'' said Summitt, the NCAA's winningest coach with a 1,071-199 record entering into this, her 38th season at UT. "The nonconference schedule is really challenging and should help us to prepare for anything we may see come postseason play.''
The Lady Vols' schedule ranked as the fifth most-difficult in the nation last season, and was No. 7 in 2009-10.
Season tickets will be available at the ticket office on Sept. 8 at 8:30 a.m.