The second annual SEC/BIG EAST Challenge from Thursday, Nov. 29 to Saturday, Dec. 1 will include defending national champion Kentucky at Notre Dame, last season’s BIG EAST regular-season champion Syracuse at Arkansas and Marquette at Florida in a showdown of each conference’s 2012 second place finishers. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 12 games of the early season three-day men’s basketball event matching 12 teams from each of the premier conferences against each other.
For the second straight year, all 12 games will be played at home sites with each conference hosting six games. Marquette, Notre Dame, South Florida and Villanova of the BIG EAST will participate in their first Challenge. All 12 SEC teams played in last year’s Challenge along with Cincinnati, DePaul, Georgetown, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Syracuse of the BIG EAST.
Overall, the field of 24 consists of 10 teams from the 2012 NCAA Tournament: six from the BIG EAST (Cincinnati, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, South Florida and Syracuse) and four from the SEC (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt).
2012 SEC/BIG EAST Challenge schedule (times and networks are to be determined):
|Thu, Nov 29||Kentucky at Notre Dame|
|Marquette at Florida|
|South Carolina at St. John’s|
|Seton Hall at LSU|
|Fri, Nov 30||Syracuse at Arkansas|
|Tennessee at Georgetown|
|DePaul at Auburn|
|Georgia at South Florida|
|Sat, Dec 1||Alabama at Cincinnati|
|Villanova at Vanderbilt|
|Mississippi State at Providence|
|Rutgers at Mississippi|
The BIG EAST won last year’s event by capturing eight wins over the SEC. The Challenge marks an expansion and modification of the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational that featured four matchups between the two conferences from two neutral sites from 2007-10. Over the four years of the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational, the conferences – which each won eight games over the four years – split the series in 2008 and 2009 and each won one (SEC in 2010 and BIG EAST in 2007).
Since 1999, the SEC (six) and the BIG EAST (nine) have combined for 15 Final Four appearances and seven national titles: Connecticut (1999, 2004 and 2011), Florida (2006 and 2007), Kentucky (2012) and Syracuse (2003).