NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky will play host to the second Sun Belt Classic when they face SEC foes Tennessee and Vanderbilt, respectively, at the Sommet Center, Dec. 11.
“It was such a great success two years ago that we were very excited to schedule it again,” said Chris Massaro, director of athletics at Middle Tennessee. “It is very important for us to have signature events in Nashville. This showcases four strong programs and the caliber of teams in this event provides a great opportunity for another record crowd. This event provides a (NCAA) Tournament atmosphere early in the season and that is something that is good for all four programs.”
The event drew 18,071 when the same two teams hosted the inaugural Sun Belt Classic December, 2007. The attendance mark established a new Sommet Center attendance record for a regular-season event. Middle Tennessee faced No. 2 Memphis and WKU played No. 12 Tennessee in the initial Sun Belt Classic. This event pits Middle Tennessee against Tennessee and WKU against Vanderbilt.
“This will be a tremendous night for college basketball and for the many passionate basketball fans in this region by having these four strong programs on display,” said Dr. Camden Wood Selig, WKU director of athletics. “We also like to try and create a regular season atmosphere that mirrors what a team experiences in the NCAA Tournament, and this doubleheader will provide exactly that type of atmosphere early in the season. We are all looking forward to this doubleheader and another great night of college basketball in Nashville.”
Middle Tennessee’s game against Tennessee is the fourth in a current five-year contract and will be the Blue Raiders’ home game. WKU and Vanderbilt are facing one another for the first time in seven seasons although the teams have met 23 previous times.
“I’m excited we were able to work this Classic out again this season because it was so well received when we did it in 2007,” Middle Tennessee Head Coach Kermit Davis said. “The Classic drew a crowd of more than 18,000 the last time, which is a Sommet Center record for a regular-season game, and with the four teams we have playing in this one I would think there would be a chance to break that mark. It’s an opportunity for fans of all four programs to see outstanding basketball in one setting, and it’s a chance for basketball fans to see two great games in one night. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
WKU Head Coach Ken McDonald said the quality of basketball early in the season will benefit all four teams and provide a tournament atmosphere.
“I am excited about the opportunity to play Vanderbilt,” McDonald said. “We get to play a really good SEC team in what should be a great night of basketball. Getting to play a game like this in Nashville is really good for our fan base. With the doubleheader format it should be like a NCAA Tournament environment.”
Ticket prices are $45 for the lower bowl and $25 for the upper section. The ticket price will be included in the Blue Raider season ticket package, which will be approximately the same price as the previous season.