Tennessee basketball and Michigan State are scheduling a closed-door scrimmage at Thompson-Boling Arena prior to the 2022-23 season, a source with knowledge of the situation told Knox News.
The source requested anonymity because preseason scrimmages are not made public.
The Vols and Spartans intend to play a second scrimmage before the 2023-24 season at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
Tennessee has played Davidson in annual preseason scrimmages during Vols coach Rick Barnes’ tenure. Davidson coach Bob McKillop, with whom Barnes has a long-standing relationship, retired in June. Barnes’ scrimmage setup with Davidson dated to his 17-year stint as the Texas coach.
Per NCAA rules, preseason scrimmages − often called “secret scrimmages” − are closed to the public and stats and results are not made available. Teams use the scrimmages to work outside a typical 40-minute game with segments focused on elements such as scripted situations, lineups, and game management.
The Vols opened the regular season against Tennessee Tech on November 7 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols are 2-5 against Michigan State in regular-season meetings and have lost three straight games. UT lost to the Spartans 70-69 in the 2010 Elite 8, its only Elite 8 appearance in program history.
Michigan State forward Raymar Morgan made a free throw with 1.8 seconds to play. Tennessee tied the game 69-69 on a Scotty Hopson free throw with 12 seconds remaining, but Hopson missed the second. Morgan was crowded, made the first shot and missed the second intentionally. JP Prince’s last-second, half-court heave missed.
UT’s most recent win against Michigan State was an 85-61 victory on Dec. 18, 1971.
Tennessee and Michigan State have previously attempted to schedule a home-and-home series, but MSU’s schedule constraints due to a 20-game conference slate were an obstacle.
“I remember one of the last conversations that I had with (former North Carolina coach) Roy Williams, and even (Michigan State coach) Tom Izzo, about trying to get something going there, they said we can’t schedule anything, we’ re going to play 20 (conference) games,” Barnes said in December 2021. “So there’s just so much we don’t know right now.”
Barnes’ comment was made regarding the potential of future nonconference games with Memphis. He noted the uncertainty regarding of the future of SEC scheduling with Oklahoma and Texas slated to join the conference in 2025. Barnes wondered in the SEC would add conference games as a result.
Tennessee’s most recent home-and-home series with a Big Ten team was with Wisconsin. The Vols and Badgers agreed to a two-game set in January 2019. Wisconsin trounced the Vols 68-48 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Dec. 28, 2019.
UT was scheduled to play the Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin, on Nov. 11, 2020. The game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to be rescheduled.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.