All 10 games of next season’s men’s college basketball Big 12/SEC Challenge Presented by Sonic will be held on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise every game of the third annual event matching all 10 of the Big 12 members against 10 teams from the Southeastern Conference. Each conference will host five games with matchups and participating teams from the SEC to be determined.
“This will be a high profile non-conference series on our networks in the middle of the league season,” noted Nick Dawson, Senior Director, Programming & Acquisitions at ESPN. “It will be a special showcase for the challenge and be a great day of college basketball action on the ESPN networks.”
This season’s Challenge, which saw the Big 12 winning six of the matchups, was held from December 3 to December 6. The inaugural event, won by the Big 12 with seven victories, was played across various dates in November and December. For 2015-16, both conferences are creating a common open date during conference play to showcase the Challenge, with late January (or early February) becoming a fixture moving forward.
“We are excited to move this event to January to provide the Big 12 a unique showcase and help ESPN give the Big 12/SEC Challenge the attention it deserves,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Our teams have shown a commitment to scheduling tough non-conference opponents and should be commended for setting a new standard by placing a key non-league matchup in the middle of the conference season.”
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said, “Moving the Big 12/SEC Challenge later in the season will raise the profile of this event and give our coaches, student-athletes and fans the attention that it deserves.”
Seven of the teams in this season’s Challenge were ranked in the AP poll at the time of the event, highlighted by matchups between No. 1 Kentucky against No. 6 Texas (won by Kentucky 63-51) and No. 18 Arkansas at No. 20 Iowa State (won by Iowa State 95-77). Seven of the teams are currently ranked in the top 25, including No. 1 Kentucky, one of two remaining undefeated teams, and six from the Big 12, the most from any conference.