UT to host Pittsburgh in Big East/SEC Challenge

Tennessee’s streak of having a men’s basketball schedule ranked in the top 20 looks to continue.

The Vols, whose schedule has ranked in the top 20 the past six seasons, will play host to Big East powerhouse Pittsburgh on Dec. 3 at Thompson-Boling Arena in the Big East/SEC Challenge.

“I think our guys will be ready for the challenges physically; it’s a matter of how quickly they pick up the things we want to do on the floor,’’ UT coach Cuonzo Martin said Thursday.

“Our returning guys want to prove some people wrong who think we won’t be competitive,’’ he said. “We lost some great players, but our guys continue to work to be champions.’’

It’s a good thing, because the Vols’ schedule already included home dates with defending national champion Connecticut as well as road trips to Conference USA tournament champion Memphis and Summit League champion Oakland (Mich.).

UT also will play in November against a Maui Invitational field full of championship programs, such as Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Michigan, Memphis and Georgetown.

The Pitt game — as well as the Oakland game — will follow soon after the trip to Hawaii.

“A lot could depend on how we come back from Maui,’’ Martin said. “But win or lose, we have to keep going, because we come back from (Maui) and have Pitt and Oakland.’’

The date of the Oakland game has yet to be announced.

Martin said he likes the Vols drawing Pitt because of the Panthers’ style of play.

“Pitt’s teams always play hard and they compete,’’ Martin said. “It will be another game for us to measure our progress and see what we have to work on.’’

UT beat then-No. 3 Pitt last season at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, 83-76, handing the Panthers their first non-conference loss in their home city in nearly six years.

The Big East/SEC Challenge has expanded to 12 games this season.

Other contests in the challenge this season:

n Dec. 1: Alabama hosts Georgetown, South Carolina hosts Providence, Kentucky hosts St. John’s and Ole Miss plays at DePaul.

n Dec. 2: Auburn plays at Seton Hall, Florida travels to Syracuse, Georgia hosts Cincinnati and Vanderbilt travels to Louisville.

n Dec. 3: Tennessee hosts Pitt, Mississippi State hosts West Virginia, LSU plays at Rutgers and Arkansas plays at UConn.

Game times and television networks will be announced in mid-August, though all games will be telecast nationally on the ESPN family of networks.

Through four seasons of the Big East/SEC Challenge, the conferences are deadlocked at 8-8. The Vols, however, are 2-0, having beat Marquette, 80-68, in 2009.

UT’s schedule ranked second in the nation last season and has ranked in the top six in five of the past six seasons.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/mikegriffith32 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/askgriff/

Big East/SEC Challenge (times and networks to be determined)

Thursday, Dec. 1

Georgetown at Alabama

Providence at South Carolina

St. John’s at Kentucky

Ole Miss at DePaul

Friday, Dec. 2

Auburn at Seton Hall

Florida at Syracuse

Cincinnati at Georgia

Vanderbilt at Louisville

Saturday, Dec. 3

Arkansas at Connecticut

West Virginia at Mississippi State

LSU at Rutgers

Pittsburgh at Tennessee

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Comments » 17

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

Should be a great test for the Vols!!!

SEC1 writes:

Get the broom and dust pan because conzo and his boys will get swept a lot this year.... pitt, uconn, kentucky, vandy, fl, 0-8 write it down!

OrangeDew writes:

in response to SEC1:

Get the broom and dust pan because conzo and his boys will get swept a lot this year.... pitt, uconn, kentucky, vandy, fl, 0-8 write it down!

That is an ignorant comment. It takes a series to be swept. "Conzo and his boys" only play Pitt and Uconn once this season.

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to SEC1:

Get the broom and dust pan because conzo and his boys will get swept a lot this year.... pitt, uconn, kentucky, vandy, fl, 0-8 write it down!

That reminds me, I was in Gainesville about three or four months ago when I saw Urban kiss Tebow on the lips! I'm not joking..... and I guess it's not a big deal, but still....it was weird they would do that in front of a huge crowd. Is that customary in Florida?

Annnnyways, I have lots of respect for the Pitt program, they have a fantastic coach, and it hopefully will be an interesting series.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Pitt will be out for revenge We'll be a team in a transition year. Gulp.

VOLliven2it writes:

No problems, we will just go out and play our best. Pitt is a good team, if they put a whipping on us, it is no shame. I just want to see our team give good effort every night.

VolNExile writes:

From the article:
“Our returning guys want to prove some people wrong who think we won’t be competitive,’’ he said. “We lost some great players, but our guys continue to work to be champions.’’

Playing for pride, I love it!

I'm looking forward to the coming season, especially to see who steps up and takes the challenge.

It's pretty easy to look good when your team is nothing but Mickey D's All-Americans. I'm way more interested to see what happens when other players (the Burger King All-Stars, maybe?) get out there and show their stuff.

Go Vols!

lomas98 writes:

Playing Pitt still says something about the overall program staying on the national stage. At least we were not picked to play Depaul or Seton Hall. Still playing one of the top teams in that conference. What a schedule next year. Glad we haven't slipped yet in our non conference scheduling like Miss. St., Ole Miss, Alabama. Most of these games were locked before Martin and I hope he continues that. I'm sure he had a say in accepting this game. Our basketball program keeps taking anybody on but yet we drop a road game against NC in football???

maciste54 writes:

in response to SEC1:

Get the broom and dust pan because conzo and his boys will get swept a lot this year.... pitt, uconn, kentucky, vandy, fl, 0-8 write it down!

It'll be a good idea to go out and play the games anyway just in case Nostradumass got it wrong !

Gomersezhey writes:

in response to maciste54:

It'll be a good idea to go out and play the games anyway just in case Nostradumass got it wrong !

That's funny right thar, I don't care who ya are.

born2ride writes:

The Vols had a fantastic game against Pitt last year but we went downhill after that. It is good to play top competition.

The road game at Memphis will be hard to win with a new coach and players. So will our SEC games.

VOLS_and_REDSOX_4ever writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

your predictions are about as reliable as the doomsday theories... You're never right.

Katphan29 writes:

A young, not-so-talented team, under NCAA sanctions, will make UT a hungry team.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Katphan29:

A young, not-so-talented team, under NCAA sanctions, will make UT a hungry team.

I hope you are right. Not sure how much good all that will do us against our stronger opponents, but I feel that our guys will show up and play their best. Next season SHOULD be about as bad as it will get for the Vols, as I have confidence CCM will get the program on the right track going forward.

OwensboroVol writes:

Funny thing I was reading last night. It seems most coaches and AD's think Bruce Pearls offenses were minor and that he should have never been fired. So bottom line, Mike Hamilton fired Bruce Pearl for suspect reasons and I feel to try to shift attention from himself to Bruce in order to keep his job. Tennessee must fire the Weasel or our Athletic Program will continue on a free fall. Thank God for Derek Dooley, but be careful, if the weasel finds out you are as good as you are, you will be gone too.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

Pitt is not going to be as good as they were last season. I still think we're the underdogs, but the game may be competitive. Sometimes crazy stuff happens in the early non-conference play.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Tough schedule. Tell me, did the trolls SEC1,
you know kid we see here so much, and Cantstandhimself, or Saban,...........did they spill the usual garbage here?

I wouldn't know since after recognizing the trolls' names, I never read anything they say.

Trollhunter.......hey my friend, get to work and
rid us of the trolls ! I know, they are stuck in neutral on our site.

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