Birmingham, Ala. – The Southeastern Conference will match up against the Big East Conference for 12 games over three days in early December for the Big East/SEC Challenge. Every SEC member will be a part of the event while 12 of the 16 Big East schools will participate. Six of the games will be played at SEC home arenas while six will be played at home facilities for Big East schools. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 12 games of the three-day event.
This year’s event features the defending national champion (Connecticut), another Final Four participant (Kentucky) and an Elite Eight team (Florida) from last year’s NCAA Tournament. Nine of the schools are ranked in an early preseason top 25 by ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, including seven of the top 15 teams: No. 2 Kentucky, No. 4 Syracuse, No. 6 Connecticut, No. 7 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Louisville, No. 12 Florida and No. 14 Alabama.
The 2011 Challenge begins on Thursday, Dec. 1, with Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina playing host to Georgetown, St. John’s and Providence, respectively, while Ole Miss travels to DePaul. On Friday night, Auburn will visit Seton Hall, Florida travels to Syracuse and Vanderbilt goes to Louisville while Georgia hosts Cincinnati. Saturday will see Tennessee host Pittsburgh and West Virginia will visit Mississippi State while Arkansas travels to Connecticut and LSU goes to Rutgers.
Last year the SEC finished with a 3-1 record in the annual event. Arkansas and Kentucky earned victories over Seton Hall and No. 23 Notre Dame, respectively, on Wednesday, Dec. 8, in Louisville, Ky. Tennessee upset No. 3 Pittsburgh while Auburn fell to Rutgers at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Dec. 11. In the event of a 6-6 tie this year, the Challenge trophy will remain with the conference that won the previous year.
This is the fifth year that the SEC and Big East have played each other as a part of an in-season event with the overall series tied 8-8. Previously known as the SEC/Big East Invitational, the first four years of the event (2007-2010) featured four matchups between the two conferences from two neutral sites.
The event title will alternate to the SEC/Big East Challenge in 2012 and be played Thursday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 1. SEC teams will alternate home and away games.
2011 BIG EAST/SEC CHALLENGE (times and networks are to be determined)
Thursday, Dec. 1
Georgetown at Alabama
Providence at South Carolina
St. John’s at Kentucky
Ole Miss at DePaul
Friday, Dec. 2
Auburn at Seton Hall
Florida at Syracuse
Cincinnati at Georgia
Vanderbilt at Louisville
Saturday, Dec. 3
Arkansas at Connecticut
West Virginia at Mississippi State
LSU at Rutgers
Pittsburgh at Tennessee