Like just about every sports team, professional or collegiate, Tennessee Volunteers basketball has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, while the rest of the country’s NCAA programs have all more or less gotten their seasons going, the Vols have been forced to remain on the sidelines so far thanks to multiple positive COVID tests.
Positive tests for Vols basketball players and coach
Just before Thanksgiving, the Vols shut down operations after multiple players, as well as head coach Rick Barnes, tested positive for the virus.
That forced the team to cancel its season-opening Volunteer Classic that had been scheduled for last week at the Thompson-Boiling Arena in Knoxville.
Tennessee was scheduled to play the UNC Charlotte 49ers last Wednesday and the Virginia Commonwealth Rams on Friday.
The Vols also had to cancel two more games scheduled for this week.
On Wednesday, Tennessee planned to participate in the Jimmy V Classic in Indianapolis where the team would take on the No. 1-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs.
After the Vols pulled out of the tournament, the West Virginia Mountaineers took their place and lost a tough-fought 87-82 contest.
Tennessee had planned to remain in Indiana and visit the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tonight, but that game was canceled as well.
New opener Wednesday vs. UT Martin
As of now, the Vols will be opening their season on Nov. 9 when they host the University of Tennessee Martin Skyhawks. The teams added the game to their schedules earlier this week.
UT Martin has faced even sadder circumstances this season with the sudden passing of their head coach Anthony Stewart at age 50. Stewart had coached the Skyhawks for the past four seasons. Assistant Montez Robinson has taken over as interim head coach.
Under Robinson, the Skyhawks have started the season 1-0 with a triple-OT win over the Evansville Purple Aces. They’ll play the No. 6-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday and the Bethel Wildcats on Monday before facing Tennessee.
The Vols have several home games scheduled after that:
- Cincinnati (Sat., Dec. 12)
- Appalachian State (Tues., Dec. 15)
- Tennessee Tech (Sat., Dec. 19)
- University of South Carolina Upstate (Tue., Dec. 22)
The Vols originally had a 27-game schedule. Now they will play 24 games total, including 18 Southeastern Conference contests.
Vols football also hit by coronavirus
Vols fans will have to wait a little longer than anticipated to place their first wagers on Tennessee basketball.
So far, fans have been able to bet on University of Tennessee football during the first month of Tennessee sportsbooks operating in the state. That said, the Vols football team has struggled mightily on the gridiron thus far, facing a number of challenging opponents. In addition, the football team has been hampered by the pandemic as well.
This week, the Vols’ football squad confirmed two positive cases and “about 16” players currently in quarantine.
That means the 2-5 Vols will play shorthanded on Saturday when they host their SEC rival the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium. Florida is 7-1 and currently ranked No. 6 in the country.
As of today, all four of Tennessee’s online sportsbooks are reflecting the Vols’ slim chances in their FLA-TEN spreads.