Since 2003, Gonzaga has played one of its December games on the other side of the mountains for an event that was dubbed the Battle in Seattle. It was a smashing success in that inaugural year with the Zags muscling out an overtime win against then third-ranked Missouri.
But it became a little less of a battle the past couple of years with opponents like South Alabama and Cal Poly not exactly drawing massive crowds to Key Arena. It seemed that last year, even Coach Mark Few was losing some interest in the annual trip to the Emerald City.
The Gonzaga athletic department made some big strides today, however, when they announced that the 2015 opponent would be Tennessee. That game is slated for December 19.
True, the Bruce Pearl years are long behind the Volunteers and the team went just 16-16 last year, but there is some mojo in Knoxville that makes this a good score. Also, just having a big, major conference team with name recognition is a coup for the event.
Right now, former Texas head coach Rick Barnes is in the process of rebuilding Tennessee and has made some quick work doing just that, it appears. Here are some of their off-season moves.
And in case you're having some trouble remembering where exactly Zag basketball is at after that trip to the Elite Eight and loss to eventual NCAA champion Duke: Yes, Pangos and Bell are gone, but Wiltjer, Sabonis, Karnowski, Draginis and all those young point guards are back. A way-too-early poll has them at No. 21 in the nation.