Men's Basketball Roundup: SEC-BIG EAST Challenge Gets Underway Thursday

 

SEC-BIG EAST Challenge Gets Underway Thursday
Conference bragging rights are on the line this week as the SEC-BIG EAST Challenge gets underway Thursday night. The Challenge pairs 12 BIG EAST teams against their conterparts from the Southeastern Conference over the course of three days, with all games carried on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. This year's schedule will include three of the nation's top 10 teams and five of the top 25. Notre Dame hosts No. 8 Kentucky, while Marquette visits No. 7 Florida Thursday, with both games on ESPN2. No. 6/5 Syracuse visits Arkansas and No. 20/25 Georgetown hosts Tennessee Friday on ESPN. Saturday's slate includes No. 17/16 Cincinnati at home against Alabama on ESPN2. The BIG EAST won last year's Challenge, taking eight of the 12 games.
 
Everybody Wins
All 15 BIG EAST teams stand at 3-3 or better through three weeks of the college basketball season. The BIG EAST is one of just four leagues in which every team has at least a .500 record, along with the Big Ten, Mountain West and SEC. Two BIG EAST schools (Cincinnati, Syracuse) remain unbeaten, while eight others have just one loss thus far.
 
Marathon Men In Providence
Providence has picked up five wins in its first seven games, which is remarkable given a tough injury epidemic that has left the Friars with seven available players through the early-going. Guards Bryce Cotton and Josh Fortune join forward LaDontae Henton as the three BIG EAST leaders in minutes played - each averages at least 38.7 minutes per game. Cotton has made the most of his minutes as he enters Saturday's game against Mississippi State as the league's scoring leader (24.3 points per game).
 
Hoyas Find Unique Way Back Into Top 25
Georgetown began the year ranked outside the top 25 polls and, as recently as the Nov. 19 poll, didn't receive a vote despite opening with three straight wins. Strangely, it took a loss for the Hoyas to move into the polls. Georgetown is ranked No. 20 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 25 in the USA Today poll, largely because of its performance 82-72 setback to top-ranked Indiana in overtime in the championship game of the Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Hoyas bounced back from that game with a 72-50 win against Mount St. Mary's last Saturday to take a 4-1 record into their SEC-BIG EAST Challenge game against Tennessee Friday.