By Mark A. Hodgkin
Twitter - @Mark_Hodgkin
This week, many SEC fans will have their eyes on the heavyweight football championship game Saturday between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia. The game likely will determine a spot in the BCS National Championship game.
But hoop fans from the Southeast will have their eyes on the hardwood to see how their teams match up with another heavyweight - BIG EAST Men's Basketball. The SEC-BIG EAST Challenge begins this Thursday and features four games a day through Saturday.
The event began as the SEC/BIG EAST invitational in 2007 when four BIG EAST teams took on four SEC teams in doubleheaders in Birmingham and Philadelphia. The BIG EAST won the first event 3-1 with wins from Georgetown, West Virginia and Villanova.
The event expanded to its current 12-team format in 2011. In the history of the event, the SEC has only beaten the BIG EAST once (though there have been two ties). Last year, the BIG EAST came out on top 8-4.
This year's event features five ranked teams (three on the BIG EAST side) over the three-day event. Things get started with four games Thursday night including Marquette visiting No. 7 Florida in a rematch of last year's NCAA Sweet 16 matchup. Florida won that game 68-58. Mike Brey's Notre Dame team will also be tested by No. 8 Kentucky in South Bend.
The full schedule is below. All games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks and fans are encouraged to use #SECvsBIGEAST on Twitter.
Thursday, November 29
Kentucky at Notre Dame (7pm, ESPN2)
South Carolina at St. John's (7:30pm, ESPNU)
Marquette at Florida (9pm, ESPN2)
Seton Hall at LSU (9:30pm, ESPNU)
Friday, November 30
Tennessee at Georgetown (6:30pm, ESPN)
Georgia at USF (7pm, ESPNU)
Syracuse at Arkansas (8:30pm, ESPN)
DePaul at Auburn (9pm, ESPNU)
Saturday, December 1
Mississippi State at Providence (Noon, ESPNU)
Rutgers at Mississippi (2pm, ESPNU)
Alabama at Cincinnati (3pm, ESPN2)
Villanova at Vanderbilt (5pm, ESPN2)