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Tennessee Basketball To Face Michigan State In Charity Exhibition Game

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball is facing Michigan State in a charity exhibition game on Sunday, Oct. 29 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

The proceeds from the exhibition game will be donated to the Hawai’i Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund, providing financial support to the people and community affected by the Maui wildfires earlier this month.

Tennessee and Michigan State were already planning on playing a closed door scrimmage in East Lansing this October— the second in the series after the Spartans came to Knoxville last October. But changing the matchup to an exhibition game allowed both programs to support Maui.

“The Maui Invitational and the city of Lahaina have always held a special place in my heart,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “The images we’ve all seen and the stories we’ve heard following the wildfires have touched so many of us in the college basketball world and I know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have been affected.

“We’ve had plans to scrimmage Rick’s team since last Fall, and we spoke about what we could do to help and honor the city of Lahaina and the people there who are in need. I’m hopeful that our Spartan family will pack the Breslin Center for what will be a great game, but will have an even greater mission, and that’s to help the Lahaina community as much as we can.”

More From RTI: Is Tennessee Basketball A Top Five Team Entering The 2023-24 Season?

Expectations are high for both Michigan State and Tennessee entering the 2023-24 season. In The Athletic’s preseason college basketball rankings released earlier this week, the Vols rank No. 5 nationally while the Spartans are right behind them at No. 6.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and Izzo have been long time coaching friends. Both the Vols and Spartans seasons started and ended in the same building a season ago. The two faced off in the aforementioned closed door scrimmage at Thompson-Boling Arena and both fell in the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden in March.

A beacon of consistency, Michigan State is one of the preseason favorites in the Big 10 just like Tennessee is in the SEC.

Helping Maui relief efforts particularly makes sense for the Vols this season. Tennessee is playing in this year’s Maui Invitational. Whether the wildfires will force the tournament to change locations is unclear.

“First, I appreciate coach Izzo and Michigan State for hosting this game, which will benefit a community that means so much to the world of college basketball,” Barnes said in a statement. “While we certainly need to continue to pray for the families in Maui who have been impacted, this benefit game will enable us to offer tangible support toward the restoration of Maui and its beautiful spirit.”

The 2023 Maui Invitational field is loaded with four of The Athletic’s top five teams making up half the field.

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