(utsports.com) Since taking over as Tennessee’s head coach in 2015-16, Rick Barnes has made a habit of lining the Vols’ schedule with marquee non-conference opponents.
On Thursday, Barnes announced a two-game, home-and-home series with Wisconsin, setting up meetings between the Volunteers and Badgers in each of the next two seasons.
The Vols will first welcome Wisconsin to Thompson-Boling Arena on Dec. 28, 2019, before traveling to Madison to face off against the Badgers on Nov. 11 during the 2020-21 season.
UW’s Kohl Center holds more than 17,000 fans and ranks as the NCAA’s 10th-toughest venue for road teams, with only 49 opponents leaving with a win since 1998.
Having just met four times since 1981, the all-time series between the programs is tied at 2-2. Tennessee swept the first two games, earning a win in 1981 and again in 2000 after downing a ranked Wisconsin team in Knoxville. The Badgers have since won two in a row, including a 65-62 victory over Tennessee in Madison on Dec. 29, 2001, and a more recent triumph at the 2016 Maui Invitational.
Greg Gard is in his fourth season as head coach at Wisconsin and led the program to back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances in each of his first two seasons at the helm. He was named the 2016 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year and owns the third-highest winning percentage in program history, piloting the Badgers to a record of 57-36 (.613) through three full seasons.
This year, Wisconsin is off to an 11-4 start and boasts a 72-66 win over 14th-ranked Iowa. The Badgers are receiving votes in both major top-25 polls and come in at No. 19 in the NCAA’s NET rankings.
Tennessee owns a 23-34 all-time record against current members of the Big 10.
The Vols’ last game against a Big Ten opponent was memorable, as Tennessee upset 18th-ranked Purdue at last season’s Battle 4 Atlantis.
Tennessee’s last contract with a Big Ten program was a two-game series with Ohio State in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Each team won at home.
Barnes is 29-29 versus Big 10 opposition and has coached against the Badgers five times during his career.
Wisconsin boasts four Final Four appearances and a national championship in 1941.