Vol NIT foe: Fordham

Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl wants to schedule at least one non-conference game each year in Nashville for visibility in the mid-state area. That goal already has been achieved.

The Vols are slated to play Nov. 13 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center against Fordham as part of the 16-team preseason NIT. The game is one half of a Music City double-header. The other game pits Belmont (featuring former Vol Boomer Herndon) against North Carolina-Wilmington.

The two Nov. 13 winners meet the next day, with the winner advancing to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and finals Nov. 23-24. The two Nov. 13 losers also meet on Nov. 14 in a sort of consolation affair.

The two preseason NIT games mean UT will play four times in Nashville during the 2006-07 season. The Vols meet Oklahoma State at Music City during pre-conference play and, of course, play an SEC road game against Vanderbilt during SEC play.

Fordham went 16-16 last season. Tennessee, 22-8 last season, is the top seed for the Nashville region. The other top seeds are North Carolina (Charlotte region), Gonzaga (Spokane region) and Indiana (Indianapolis region).

The tournament should provide great exposure for Tennessee. All of the preseason NIT games will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2.

The Vols are hoping to schedule a couple of exhibitions and a Nov. 10 home opener, so they'll have some experience under their belts before beginning play in the preseason NIT. Associate coach Tony Jones is putting the finishing touches on the schedule right now.

Other teams scheduled to compete in the preseason NIT are Sacred Heart, Winthrop and Iona (Charlotte region); Rice, Baylor and Colorado State (Spokane region); Lafayette, Notre Dame and Butler (Indianapolis region).

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