Different Shades of Orange: Tennessee vs. Texas Preview
Two top ten teams square off Saturday. The premiere matchup of all of the Big 12 versus SEC showdowns this weekend is No. 10 Texas versus No. 4 Tennessee.
The Big 12 and SEC challenge is always a great break from conference play for both teams, and gives them an opportunity to make a statement against an out of conference opponent on the national stage.
The Big 12 has been the toughest conference in college basketball, with six teams ranked in the top 25. Night in and night out it is an absolute battle with no easy teams in the conference. Saturday will start a stretch of four consecutive games against a ranked opponent for Texas.
The SEC is another strong conference, but lacks the depth the Big 12 has. With the tough schedule coming up for Texas, the Longhorns are in dire need of a win.
The main storyline heading into this top ten showdown involves head coach Rick Barnes. Barnes has been the head coach for Tennessee since 2015. But before leading the Volunteers he was the head coach at Texas from 1998 to 2015.
Barnes had a ton of success in Austin, he became Texas' all time winningest coach during the 2006-2007 season. However, Barnes was never able to bring that elusive national championship to Texas.
It has been a rollercoaster year for Texas. The Longhorns had sky high expectations entering the season with Marcus Carr and Timmy Allen returning for another season.
Texas was also able to add Tyrese Hunter from the transfer portal. Hunter had an outstanding freshman year at Texas Tech a season ago. The Longhorns on paper are one of the more deeper and balanced teams in the country.
However, a scandal rocked this program when the head coach at the time, Chris Beard, was fired after a domestic violence charge. Rodney Terry was named interim head coach and was able to right the ship.
This matchup presents a huge opportunity for the Longhorns and they can get themselves back in the race for the Big 12. Texas can also get revenge against their former head coach, Rick Barnes.
The Volunteers are one of the top teams in the SEC for a reason. Barnes has Tennessee playing some outstanding defense, it just comes down to will this team score enough come March?
This is a veteran group led by Santiago Vescovi and Uros Plavsic. The Volunteers want this to be a low scoring game with a slow pace of play. Either Vescovi or Plavsic will have to step up down the stretch and become that go-to scorer.
The college basketball world will be watching this game. College gameday will be in attendance for a dual of two of the premiere programs in this sport.
Texas and Tennessee have a lot in common,including Rick Barnes. But these two schools have also been unable to take that next step and win a national championship.
Aidan Torok is a third-year majoring in telecommunications and minoring in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him, email email@example.com.