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Vols to Play in Another Prestigious Early Season Tournament

Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

Tennessee’s men’s basketball team has made it a habit of playing in top-shelf early season tournaments under head coach Rick Barnes. On Wednesday, it was announced the Vols will be playing in another such tournament in the coming years.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported on Wednesday that Tennessee will be participating in the 2021 Hall-of-Fame Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun up in Connecticut. The Vols will be one of four teams in the tournament, with the others being North Carolina, Villanova, and Purdue.

The time and date of the tournament has not been announced as of yet, but it will likely be in the first couple months of the 2021-22 season.

While the Hall-of-Fame Tip-Off isn’t for another two years, the Vols’ opponents in the prestigious mini-tournament are some familiar foes for Tennessee’s men’s program.

Tennessee last played North Carolina two seasons ago during the 2017-18 campaign. The Vols lost 78-73 to the Tarheels in Knoxville on December 17, 2017 and lost 73-71 in Chapel Hill on December 11, 2016. Tennessee is just 1-10 all-time against North Carolina, losing five-straight to the Tar Heels.

In November of 2017, Tennessee played both Purdue and Villanova in the same early season tournament. The Vols participated in the Battle 4 Atlantis and took on Purdue in their first game. Tennessee upset No. 18 Purdue 78-75 in overtime, and they faced Villanova in their second match. Despite leading Villanova by 12 points at halftime, the Vols would crumble in the second half and eventually lose 85-76.

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Purdue would get their revenge on Tennessee this past season, however. The Boilermakers took the Vols to overtime in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and Purdue closed the game strong and beat UT 99-94, eliminating them from the Big Dance.

Tennessee has participated in an early season tournament every year under Rick Barnes. In his first year as head coach, the Vols traveled to Brooklyn for the Barclays Center Classic in 2015. In 2016, Tennessee participated in the Maui Invitational, and the team traveled to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis in 2017. In 2018, Tennessee again went up to Brooklyn for the NIT Season Tip-Off.

This year, the Vols will be traveling to Florida for the Emerald Coast Classic on November 29th. Tennessee will face-off with Florida State and will play either Purdue (again) or VCU on November 30th depending on the results of the first two games.

Next season, Tennessee will play in the Charleston Classic along with Houston, Florida State, VCU, Seton Hall, Penn State, Oklahoma State, and Charleston.

The Vols (2-0) are back in action for the 2019-20 season on Saturday as they travel to Toronto to face No. 20 Washington (2-0) for the James Naismith Hall of Fame Classic. Tennessee is fresh off an 82-63 victory over Murray State in Knoxville.

Tip-off for the James Naismith Hall of Fame Classic is set for 5:00 PM Eastern.

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