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Friday, August 10, 2007

MTSU v. Memphis, W. Kentucky v. Tennessee Doubleheader in Nashville

MTSU, W. Kentucky plan Memphis doubleheader

Posted: August 8, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky will play a doubleheader against Memphis and Tennessee on Dec. 15 in what school officials hope will be the first of many Sun Belt Classics.

"It's certainly a great opportunity for Western Kentucky and MTSU to play outstanding programs on a neutral floor and make a national statement," Western Kentucky athletic director Wood Selig said at a news conference Wednesday announcing the games.

Middle Tennessee will play Memphis in a game televised on ESPN2 followed by Western Kentucky and Tennessee on ESPNU. Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky already had the games scheduled with the opponents, but the four schools worked together to plan the doubleheader at the Sommet Center in downtown Nashville, where the NHL's Predators play.

Both Memphis and Tennessee reached the regional semifinals in the NCAA tournament last March and are expected to be ranked in the Top 10 this season.

Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro said tickets will cost $30 in the lower bowl, $15 in the upper bowl for the doubleheader. Season-ticket buyers for Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky will have first chance at prime seating.

"We want to have a sold-out event, and we want people scalping tickets outside," Massaro said.

Massaro said the advantage for Memphis and Tennessee is both coaches want to expand their teams' presence in Nashville, which is a three-hour drive from each campus. Neither Memphis coach John Calipari nor Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl attended Wednesday.

Calipari said he has wanted to play a neutral game in Nashville since coming to Memphis. Middle Tennessee lost 86-46 when visiting Memphis last season.

"For one thing or another, it didn't work out. I'm glad we helped make it happen this time, especially for our fans that live in the Nashville area who are unable to travel to Memphis for our home games," he said in a statement.

Pearl's Vols played three games in Nashville at the Sommet Center last season and won each of those.

"Some people think there is everything to lose and nothing to gain by playing games like this. I don't agree with that," Pearl said. "You run the risk of getting beat, but the risk is worth it."

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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