Vols add more ACC flavor to future basketball schedules

Vols add more ACC flavor to future basketball schedules

March 3rd, 2017 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) guards Tennessee's Grant Williams during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Photo by Gerry Broome

KNOXVILLE -- Two multi-game series with ACC opponents wasn't enough for Tennessee's basketball program.

Head coach Rick Barnes and the Volunteers now have added a third.

Tennessee on Friday morning announced the finalization of a two-game home-and-home series with Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will host the Vols on Dec. 23 next season and return to Knoxville on Dec. 22, 2018. The two programs last met in 2013 at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

"There's a lot of reasons for that," Barnes said later Friday before practice, "because we recruit heavily in North Carolina. Wake is a program that you see right now is close to being a tournament team, and they're going to be there. We have a lot of respect for Danny Manning and what he does.

"The fact is we want to continue to play a national schedule and play against teams that we think potentially every year are tournament teams. Every year we'd like to think that we've played one of the toughest non-league schedules in the country."

Next season the Vols already were set to play at Georgia Tech in the third of a four-game series with the Yellow Jackets, while North Carolina will play in Knoxville after Tennessee visited Chapel Hill in December and nearly stole an upset victory.

The Vols also could play North Carolina State in their return to the Battle 4 Atlantis. The tournament field also includes defending national champion Villanova, Pac-12 heavyweight Arizona, Big Ten power Purdue, AAC co-leaders SMU and mid-majors in Northern Iowa and Western Kentucky.

Florida State's Xavier Rathan-Mayes makes a steal against Wake Forest's Mitchell Willbekin and heads for a breakaway score during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State won 88-72. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

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Photo by The Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Barnes, formerly the head coach at Clemson, is 4-9 against Wake Forest and 67-73 against current ACC programs. Tennessee's won eight of its 10 meetings against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons haven't played in Knoxville since 1967.

Wake Forest's current team only includes two seniors but is 17-12 with a RPI of No. 40 and remains firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble under third-year coach Danny Manning, the former Kansas star.

Three Tennessee freshmen -- forward Grant Williams, guard Kwe Parker and redshirting swingman Jalen Johnson -- are North Carolina natives, and injured rookie John Fulkerson also played his final two seasons of high school basketball in the Tar Heel state.

Tennessee's new athletics director John Currie earned his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest, but the contract between the two programs was signed in December, according to Tennessee's release.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.


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