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Tennessee Basketball to participate in ESPN Tip-Off Marathon

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We know several of the names on the 2010-11 basketball schedule - Memphis, UConn, Southern Cal, and Pittsburgh for starters - but the full schedule is yet to be released.  We also know the Vols will participate in the 2010 Preseason NIT Tournament.

Today, ESPN's announcement of their annual Tip-Off Marathon gives us a date and an opponent to get things started:  the Vols will begin the 2010-11 season on college basketball's opening night:  Tuesday, November 16 in the first round of the Preseason NIT, against Belmont in Knoxville.  The game is part of ESPN's 24 hour marathon of college hoops, and will tip-off at 9:30 PM Eastern on ESPNU.

Belmont is no slouch, as anyone who watched them lose to Duke by one point in the 2008 NCAA Tournament will attest to.  That was their third straight tournament appearance, and though they've missed the last two (getting knocked off in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament despite a 19-11 record last year), they also have a history of giving the Vols a fight:  when last we met, Tennessee barely survived 79-77 in December 2008.  The kids from Nashville are always ready to play against us.

If the NIT uses the same format, the Vols will have to win two games in Knoxville before advancing to Madison Square Garden.  Other teams in the field include Villanova, UCLA, and Wake Forest is rumored to round out the assumed final four.  Not sure yet who the Vols would face after Belmont, if we win.

Check out the full schedule for ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon (H/T:  Gobbler Country), which starts with Tiger High at midnight and includes Virginia Tech at Kansas State, Ohio State at Florida, Baylor's 6'8" center against the UConn women, South Carolina at Michigan State, and more all in 24 hours.  There are only 19 days 'til football season, and only 92 days until the basketball Vols begin again.