December 27, 2013

Preview: UVa heads for Knoxville

UVa will close out the non-conference portion of its schedule on Monday night when the Cavaliers visit the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (7 p.m., ESPN2) in a game that is very important for both teams.

These two squads met a season ago in Charlottesville, with UVa grinding out a 46-38 victory in early December. Like last season, the Hoos will head into their final non-conference matchup this year with a 9-3 record, looking to gather some momentum before a tough 18-game schedule in the ACC. Virginia will also enter on a two-game winning streak after picking up victories over Northern Iowa and Norfolk State following the exam break.

One of the biggest focuses for UVa in getting to this game was avoiding a holiday letdown and though the matchup against the Vols seemed early on to be a chance for a resume-building win, it's hard to say how Tennessee will fare from this point on. The Vols have to go to Kentucky and Florida by the end of next month but do get a return matchup in Knoxville against the Gators before a very winnable final six games of the year.

Though UT's four losses to date aren't horrible, they aren't exactly confidence boosting either. In fact, the Volunteers have already dropped a game at home to an ACC squad (NC State) that many expected wouldn't do that well in the league this season. Most of the teams that Tennessee has beaten (USC Upstate, The Citadel, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, and Morehead State) are all teams that don't scare you whatsoever. Really, more often than not the Vols have struggled in games against quality teams this season.

As we get you set for Monday night's matchup between the SEC and ACC, we've taken a look at Tennessee's roster and broken down what fans should expect to see in Knoxville.

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