Matchups for the first Big 12/SEC Challenge unveiled

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

The Big 12/SEC Challenge has some good matchups -- it's just gonna take a few weeks to finish. (USATSI)
The Big 12/SEC Challenge has some good matchups -- it's just gonna take a few weeks to finish. (USATSI)

Here's another groove in the early-season college basketball schedule -- only this one won't be like the lauded/reliable ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

The Big 12/SEC Challenge, something new to the format, won't take place over the course of days but rather weeks. Five of them, to be exact. That's a shame, because this kind of series works best when all schools involved get on board and play the games within a few-day period, really. Otherwise, even vested college basketball fans lose interest and/or count when things drag on. (It's why the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series came to a whimpering end.)

ESPN, which will broadcast all 10 games, says it's working on squeezing the series to something more contained in the years ahead. Nevertheless, here's the newest made-for-TV interconference arrangement. Two games are at neutral sites. And since the Big 12 has 10 teams (naturally) and the SEC 14, four clubs are missing out on the fun. Those four are Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee.

Times and channels still TBD.

DateGame
Thursday, Nov. 14Texas Tech at Alabama
Monday, Dec. 2Vanderbilt at Texas
Auburn at Iowa State
Thursday, Dec. 5Ole Miss at Kansas State
West Virginia at Missouri
TCU at Mississippi State
Friday, Dec. 6South Carolina at No. 11 Oklahoma State
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 19 Baylor (Arlington)
Tuesday, Dec. 10No. 5 Kansas at No. 7 Florida
Saturday, Dec. 21Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M (Houston)

Kentucky-Baylor and Kansas-Florida are the two headliners. KU is 3-1 all-time against Florida, while UK is 7-1 against Baylor (but lost last year to the Bears).

Vandy-Texas features two teams that could struggle to win 20 games. Iowa State should roll Auburn. Ole Miss-K-State will be interesting because neither team is going to be as good next year as it was last year. The Marshall Henderson factor could be fun. WVU-Mizzou. Well, WVU's gotta be better than last year. TCU-Mississippi State ... let's just move on. South Carolina's Frank Martin will have his hands full at Oklahoma State. And OU-A&M on Dec. 21 is in Houston, of all places.

It's decent. We get a few games here we wouldn't otherwise have. I'm all for beefing up nonconference scheduling, even if it means TV dictates the tilts.

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