Aside from the usual struggles of dealing with the SEC schedule, this year the Vols will play three marquee non-conference games, a host of local and in-state schools, and three games in the Virgin Islands in the Paradise Jam Tournament. Tennessee continues to put together a difficult schedule under Bruce Pearl, and this year will be no different.
One result of the program's success is the presence of television cameras at Tennessee's games: the Vols will play in front of a national television audience three times on CBS, and have six of their SEC contests scheduled for ESPN. ESPN2 will pick up another three games, and all the other contests can be seen one way or another.
Here's a look at Tennessee's 2009-10 schedule, with more thoughts after the jump...
|Fri Nov 13||vs Austin Peay||9:00PM||SportSouth|
|Tue Nov 17||vs UNC-Asheville||7:00PM||Fox Sports South|
|Fri Nov 20||vs East Carolina||3:30PM||Fox Sports South||Paradise Jam - St. Thomas|
|Sat Nov 21||vs DePaul/Northern Iowa||6:00PM||Fox Sports South||Paradise Jam - St. Thomas|
|Mon Nov 23||TBD||TBD||Fox Sports South||Parasise Jam - St. Thomas|
|Fri Nov 27||vs College of Charleston||7:00PM||CSS|
|Wed Dec 2||vs ETSU||7:00PM||SportSouth|
|Fri Dec 11||vs MTSU||7:00PM||ESPNU||SEC/Sun Belt Classic - Nashville|
|Tue Dec 15||vs Wyoming||7:00PM||ESPNU|
|Sat Dec 19||at Southern Cal||4:30PM||Fox Sports South|
|Wed Dec 23||vs North Carolina A&T||7:00PM||CSS|
|Thu Dec 31||at Memphis||4:00PM||ESPN2|
|Wed Jan 6||vs UNC-Charlotte||7:00PM||CSS|
|Sun Jan 10||vs Kansas||1:30PM||CBS|
|Thu Jan 14||vs Auburn||7:00PM||ESPN2|
|Sat Jan 16||vs Ole Miss||1:30PM||SEC Network|
|Tue Jan 19||at Alabama||7:00PM||ESPN|
|Sat Jan 23||at Georgia||5:00PM||Fox Sports South|
|Wed Jan 27||vs Vanderbilt||7:00PM||ESPNU|
|Sun Jan 31||vs Florida||1:00PM||CBS|
|Thu Feb 4||at LSU||9:00PM||ESPN2|
|Sat Feb 6||vs South Carolina||6:00PM||ESPN|
|Tue Feb 9||at Vanderbilt||7:00PM||ESPN|
|Sat Feb 13||at Kentucky||9:00PM||ESPN||College GameDay|
|Web Feb 17||vs Georgia||8:00PM||SEC Network|
|Sat Feb 20||at South Carolina||1:30PM||SEC Network|
|Tue Feb 23||at Florida||9:00PM||ESPN|
|Sat Feb 27||vs Kentucky||12:00PM||CBS|
|Wed Mar 3||vs Arkansas||7:00PM||CSS|
|Sat Mar 6||at Mississippi State||6:00PM||ESPN|
Some additional thoughts on UT's schedule:
- The Paradise Jam field includes Boston College, South Dakota State and St. Joseph's on the other side of the bracket, but the big fish is preseason #7 Purdue, who the Vols could see in the finals if both teams win on Friday and Saturday. In the Vols' half of the bracket, Northern Iowa won the Missouri Valley Tournament and 23 games last year, but were bounced in the first round of the tournament by the same Purdue squad.
- The SEC/Sun Belt Classic game with MTSU is at the Somet Center in Nashville, the first half of a double-header with Vanderbilt vs. Western Kentucky to follow.
- The first real road trip of the season takes the Vols to Los Angeles to face our old friend Kevin O'Neill and the USC Trojans. O'Neill can give Pearl a run for his money in terms of quotability when he wants to, so that should be a very interesting weekend.
- The New Year's Eve game at Memphis being in the late afternoon should keep Vol fans sane - if the Vols qualify for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, it kicks at 7:30 the same night, meaning we could risk sensory overload but you won't have to choose between the two.
- Kansas enters the season ranked #1 in both polls, but before coming to Knoxville the Jayhawks will travel to Memphis, UCLA, and play consecutive December home games with #15 Michigan and #12 California. Will they still be atop the polls when they get here?
- The Vols get a much easier start in the SEC schedule than they did last year, with four games against lower-half teams to open. But the SEC East could be defined by a brutal three game stretch in February - at South Carolina, at Florida, vs Kentucky.
- There are no off-dates in the SEC schedule this year, meaning everyone will play two games every week, typically Tue/Wed/Thu and then Saturday.