"Our schedule for the coming season is exciting and challenging," said Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt, who is beginning her 33rd season at Tennessee and is the NCAA's all-time winningest coach, starting the season at 913-177. "As usual, we take on an aggressive schedule which allows us to prepare for post season play.
"I'm glad we'll be playing 18 home dates, including the exhibition games. Our fans have been so supportive throughout the years. I'm excited that we have been able to increase our home dates," said Summitt.
Six teams return to the Lady Vol regular season schedule after a hiatus. Tennessee will meet UCLA for the first time since 1999; UT travels to Arizona State but will play the contest indoors – in 2000 the squads faced off outside at Bank One Ballpark; Middle Tennessee State University returns to the schedule for the first time since 1984; Tennessee and North Carolina have a two-year home-and-home series slated – the last regular season meeting was in 1988, but the two teams have squared-off in NCAA tilts in 1993, 1998 and 2006; Coach Summitt's alma mater, Tennessee-Martin, is back in the line-up for the first time since 1999, and West Virginia University and Tennessee will face off after a 20-year break.
Following a pair of exhibition tune-ups (Carson-Newman on Nov. 1 and the Houston Jaguars on Nov. 5), the Lady Vols officially open the season at home with a pair of games: Nov. 12 against Chattanooga and Nov. 16 versus UCLA.
The remainder of the November slate includes a date at Arizona State (Nov. 19), home games against Stanford (Nov. 24) and Middle Tennessee State (Nov. 26) and a trip to Ruston, La., to face Louisiana Tech (Nov. 28).
Tennessee starts the December portion of its schedule on the road at Chapel Hill, taking on North Carolina in a Sunday night (Dec. 3) prime-time meeting on ESPN. The Tar Heels bounced the Lady Vols out of the 2006 NCAA Tournament in an Elite Eight match-up. The visit will mark Tennessee's first trip to Carmichael Auditorium since 1988. The Lady Vols will then entertain Tennessee-Martin (Dec. 5) and George Washington (Dec. 7) at home before taking a 10-day break for final exams. UT will be in action on Dec. 17 at Texas, Dec. 20 at home versus West Virginia, Dec. 22 at Old Dominion and back home on Dec. 30 against Notre Dame.
In January, the Lady Vols will face two additional non-conference foes before settling into the daunting SEC slate. Tennessee travels to BIG EAST foe Connecticut on Jan. 6 (CBS), and Duke makes an appearance in Knoxville on Jan. 22 in a "Big Monday" meeting on ESPN.
January is a light SEC month at home for the Lady Vols with only Alabama (Jan. 3) and Mississippi State (Jan. 18) visiting the Knoxville campus. UT will be on the SEC road, traveling to Florida (Jan. 11), Georgia (Jan. 14), Vanderbilt (Jan. 25) and Alabama (Jan. 28).
February is almost the reverse schedule for Tennessee, as the Lady Vols will enjoy five home games by taking on South Carolina (Feb. 1), Georgia on ESPN2 (Feb. 5), Kentucky in a "February Frenzy" meeting on ESPN on Feb. 11, Mississippi (Feb. 15) and Vanderbilt (Feb. 25). February road trips include jaunts to Auburn (Feb. 8), LSU on ESPN2 (Feb. 19) and to Arkansas (Feb. 22). Once again, Tennessee will play home-and-home SEC match-ups with Alabama and Georgia this season to go along with its annual home-and-home traditional rival contests versus Vanderbilt.
"It's no surprise that we've taken on another challenging schedule for the coming season," said Summitt. "I'm excited that our fans will get to enjoy such a great line-up of games in Thompson-Boling Arena.
"Once again this year, the SEC – from top to bottom -- will be as strong as it has ever been," professed Summitt. "I expect to see several SEC teams ranked among the nation's top 10. The SEC schedule will be extremely challenging."
The 2006 Southeastern Conference Tournament will venture to Duluth, Ga., March 1-4. The NCAA festivities kick-off with First/Second Round games March 17-20 and four NCAA Regionals, March 24-27. The season will culminate with the 2007 NCAA Final Four at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, April 1 & 3.