According to Texas Tech basketball head coach Mark Adams, the Red Raiders are set to return to Madison Square Garden in 2021, this time to face Tennessee as part of the Jimmy V Classic. Adams shared the news Thursday on the Courtside with Greenberg and Dakich podcast.
This will mark the fourth time in recent years that the Red Raiders have played at the legendary Madison Square Garden. In 2017, the Red Raiders fell to Seaton Hall 89-79 at MSG while in 2018, they lost to Duke 68-59.
But it was 2019’s trip to the so-called “world’s most famous arena” that Texas Tech basketball fans most fondly remember. Taking down No. 1 ranked Louisville, the Red Raiders picked up their first-ever win over the nation’s top-ranked team.
That night, the Red Raiders were without Jahmi’us Ramsey (who would end the season as the team’s leading scorer) but Davide Moretti’s 18 points and an unexpected 10 points and two blocks from Avery Benson helped Tech to a 70-59 win.
Now, after a year’s hiatus from MSG, Tech will return to the biggest stage in basketball. And fittingly, the opponent will be no slouch.
Under head coach Rick Barnes, the Tennessee Volunteers have been an annual fixture in the top 25 and have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three years that it has been held. And this coming season, the Vols appear to be formidable once again.
Of course, Barnes is no stranger to Texas Tech basketball fans. As the former head coach of the Texas Longhorns, he had unprecedented success against the Red Raiders going 33-4 in the series.
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Last season, Tennessee went 18-9 overall and 10-7 in the SEC to earn a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There they would fall in the first round to No. 12 seed Oregon State as the Beavers had an improbable run to the Elite Eight.
Tech is setting itself up for a tough non-conference slate again this year. In addition to facing the Vols at MSG, Tech will take on Gonzaga in Phoenix and will travel to Providence to take on the Friars as part of the Big 12/Big East Challenge. In addition, the Red Raiders will again participate in the Big 12/SEC Challenge in January but their opponent for that event is yet to be announced.
While Tech fans would love to start to see more of these marquee non-conference games take place in Lubbock, the fact remains that playing at Madison Square Garden is especially beneficial for the Texas Tech basketball brand. The Jimmy V Classic is one of ESPN’s marquee college basketball events and it receives top billing from the network thus, participating in that event is going to help bring recognition to the Red Raiders and allow people around the nation to get a look a the new incarnation of the program under Adams’ leadership.
What’s more, the fact that Texas Tech basketball remains enough of a national draw to be included in this event is a reminder of where the program stands these days after years of obscurity. And now, the rest of the nation is curious about where the Red Raiders will be headed under Adams. They will get an early opportunity to find out when the new coach takes his team back to the Big Apple early next season.