The Gonzaga Bulldogs will take on the Tennessee Volunteers in a preseason scrimmage in Frisco, Texas, on Oct. 28, according to Mike Wilson of the Knoxville News Sentinel. The game is reportedly open to the public.
The NCAA permits programs to schedule up to two preseason games either in the form of closed-door scrimmages or exhibition bouts, like the matchup with the Vols. In previous years, the Zags have held scrimmages against Michigan State like in 2019 when they upended the presumptive No. 1 Spartans in Denver. According to Rocky Top Insider, the Vols and MSU will hold a similar scrimmage before the 2022-23 season begins.
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and Mark Few scheduled scrimmages back when Barnes was the head coach at Texas, and it appears the connection still runs deep.
Both teams will come into the matchup after disappointing finishes to the 2021-22 season. The Vols entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed before losing to No. 11 Michigan in the second round, while the Zags were bested by Arkansas in the Sweet Sixteen. With impactful players returning on both sides, the preseason game will be a highly competitive tune-up bout between two legit programs.
Despite losing Kennedy Chandler and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, the Vols still return four of their five leading scorers from a season ago and should be solid defensively once again. All-SEC first team member Santiago Vescovi is heading into his senior season after averaging 13.3 points per game on efficient shooting clips. He’ll lead a squad that features two-way players Josiah-Jordan James and Oliver Nkamhou to help the Vols reclaim their spot among the nation’s top 25 programs.
The Zags, who claimed the No. 1 spot in CBS Sports’ most recent preseason poll, return six of their top eight scorers led by Drew Timme. The additions of Malachi Smith and Efton Reid make this one of the deepest groups in the nation. And with five upperclassmen expected to play significant minutes, the preseason tune-up game helps the Zags get that much closer to where they need to be by the start of the regular season.