KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers released the basketball schedule for the 2010-11 season this afternoon.
In addition to the Southeastern Conference slate of 16 games, the Lady Vols will also face a number of non-conference formidable foes, tangling with Baylor, Lamar, Virginia, Arizona State, Texas, Rutgers, Louisville, Stanford and Old Dominion. UT will also welcome in-state rivals UT-Chattanooga and East Tennessee State to the schedule.
A Thanksgiving junket takes the team back to the U.S. Virgin Islands for the first time since 2005 with a three-game appearance in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas from Nov. 25-27. The Lady Vols will take a trip down memory lane facing Missouri (Nov. 25) for the first time since 1978, when associate head coach Holly Warlick was quarterbacking the team, and Georgia Tech (Nov. 26) who appears on UT's schedule for the first time since 1989. Tennessee wraps up the tournament facing first time opponent, Georgetown (Nov. 27).
"This is another aggressive and demanding line-up of opponents for the coming year," said Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt, who is beginning her 37th season at Tennessee and is the NCAA's all-time winningest coach starting the campaign with a 1,037-196 overall record. "This schedule is also exciting and challenging and will help to prepare us for post-season play."
Twenty of UT's 25 opponents in the coming season participated in 2010 post season play appearing in the NCAA or WNIT Tournaments. In all, UT will be facing competition from nine different conferences in the coming year including the Atlantic Sun, ACC, Big 12, BIG EAST, Colonial, Pac 10, Southeastern, Southern and Southland Conferences.
"Once again, I'm thrilled that we have the opportunity for 17 home dates (including the exhibition games) in our arena. Our great fans will be treated to a tremendous home schedule," said Summitt.
The season gets underway with a pair of exhibition tune-ups in Knoxville as Carson-Newman comes to town on Nov. 2 and two-time defending NAIA National Champion Union University (Jackson, Tenn.) heads to Rocky Top for a game on Nov. 7. Following the dress rehearsal contests, the Lady Vols officially open the season on the road taking on BIG EAST foe Louisville in the basketball opening of the brand new 22,000 seat KFC Yum! Center on Nov. 12 in the "Derby City." Tennessee kicks-off the home portion of the 2010-11 slate against visiting UT-Chattanooga on Nov. 15 in Thompson-Boling Arena.
The remainder of the November schedule features contests at home against Virginia (Nov. 18) and Arizona State (Nov. 21) before the Lady Vols jet to the Caribbean over Thanksgiving for the Paradise Jam and three tough games.
Tennessee opens the December edition of the schedule at home facing its 185th all-time opponent, Lamar University on Dec. 1. The Lady Vols will then travel to meet Old Dominion (Dec. 5) before taking a week off for final exams. UT will resume playing hoops with a swing through the state of Texas taking on Texas on Dec. 12 and then traveling to Waco for the first time ever to meet the Baylor Lady Bears (Dec. 14) on ESPN2. Prior to the Christmas holidays, Tennessee will welcome 2010 NCAA runner-up Stanford (Dec. 19) on ESPN2 and East Tennessee State (Dec. 22) to Thompson-Boling Arena. Following a break for the holidays, UT concludes the 2010 portion of the non-conference schedule with a game against Rutgers in Knoxville on Dec. 30.
In January, the Lady Vols open the 2011 side of the slate with another aggressive SEC line-up traveling to LSU (Jan. 2) before opening conference play at home on Jan. 6 against Alabama. The first month of the year continues with home games versus Mississippi (Jan. 9), Vanderbilt (Jan. 15) on ESPN and Mississippi State (Jan. 27). UT will hit the road to play at Florida (Jan. 13), South Carolina (Jan. 20), Auburn (Jan. 23) and Arkansas (Jan. 30).
Tennessee opens the month of February with a pivotal game on ESPN2 at Kentucky on Feb. 7 followed by away games at Vanderbilt (Feb. 13) and Mississippi (Feb. 24). February home dates include Florida (Feb. 10), South Carolina (Feb. 17), a "Big Monday" meeting with Georgia on ESPN2 (Feb. 21) and the Senior Day Celebration on Feb. 27 against LSU.
In the 16-game SEC schedule, the Lady Vols play home-and-home games with Florida, LSU, Mississippi and South Carolina once again this season, to go along with its annual home-and-home traditional rival contests versus Vanderbilt.
"The SEC will be as strong and unpredictable as it has ever been," professed Summitt. "From the top team to the 12th team, everyone is going to have to bring its' A game every night in this league. Great coaching minds and some more incredible young talent are going to make an always tough league, even tougher."
In the postseason, the 2011 SEC Tournament returns to the Music City in Nashville, Tenn., Mar. 3-6. When the height of March Madness begins and the NCAA Tournament is announced on Mar. 14, four teams will be heading to Thompson-Boling Arena as women's basketball fans will be treated to NCAA First/Second Round action in Knoxville, Tenn., Mar. 19 & 21. Other NCAA First/Second Round games will be played at 15 additional sites from Mar. 19-22. The NCAA Regional Championships will be contested, Mar. 26-29 and the season will culminate with the 2011 NCAA Final Four at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., April 3 and 5.