This is beginning to feel like waiting for your favorite bands to release tour dates, right? Today we've got more made-for-TV (well, most major college basketball is made for TV, but you get what I'm saying) inter-conference basketball to release to you. While the Big Ten/ACC Challenge leaves a lot to be desired, the first Big East/SEC Challenge has quite a few interesting games. Like the former, the latter will be put on and broadcast by ESPN. It'll be a three-day ordeal, with all 12 SEC teams playing against a select group of Big East schools.
This Challenge is buttressed by the SEC-Big East Invitational, which was more selective, not fully endorsed by ESPN and played sporadically in the non-conference season. No more. Now: bragging rights definitively on the line.
And, no, the top 12 from last year's Big East standings didn't get first dibs. Those who got clipped: Notre Dame, Marquette, South Florida and Villanova. Somewhat surprising omissions, I suppose. You want the history with these teams, including records and all the nuggets that make looking ahead to this stuff so much fun? We've got you covered, absolutely.
Here's the slate:
|Thu, Dec 1||St. John’s at Kentucky|
|Georgetown at Alabama|
|Providence at South Carolina|
|Mississippi at DePaul|
|Fri, Dec 2||Vanderbilt at Louisville|
|Florida at Syracuse|
|Cincinnati at Georgia|
|Auburn at Seton Hall|
|Sat, Dec 3||Arkansas at Connecticut|
|Pittsburgh at Tennessee|
|West Virginia at Mississippi State|
|LSU at Rutgers|
A very nice lineup. I can genuinely say I'm looking forward to six of the 12 games, which is a fantastic batting average. Vanderbilt at Louisville probably piques my interest more than any other, but Florida-Syracuse, Georgetown-Alabama, Arkansas-Connecticut (Arkansas could win that game, absolutely), Pittsburgh-Tennessee and St. John's-Kentucky at least get my brain excited.
There are duds, to be sure, but by the time these games are played -- nearly a month into the season -- you know how it goes: some teams could be much better or worse than expected.
Courtesy of ESPN, some notable things about the games
- Florida is undefeated in the Carrier Dome -- only all of its previous games there were in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse leads the all-time series over Florida 3-1.
- Vanderbilt and Louisville -- despite being only 174 miles apart -- will play for the first time in 17 years
- Three of the matchups will be the first meeting between the programs: Cincinnati at Georgia, LSU at Rutgers and Auburn at Seton Hall.
- Remember Pittsburgh-Tennessee from last season? The Vols won, 83-76.