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SEC Weekend Hoops Preview: SEC/Big 12 Challenge

In which the SEC leaves some of its best teams out of the challenge.

NIT Season Tip-Off Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

#24 Iowa State at #20 Ole Miss

11 a.m. CT | ESPN

They’re starting off with a heater on ESPN. The Rebels haven’t looked their best as of late but beating Iowa State would easily give them their best non conference win for the resume.

Alabama at Baylor

11 a.m. CT | ESPNU

Baylor struggled early in the season, losing to Wichita State and Stephen F Austin early on, but have greatly improved. Their last three games are wins at Oklahoma State, vs. Texas Tech, and at West Virginia. This is going to be a tough one for the Tide.

Florida at TCU

11 a.m. CT | ESPN2

I think everyone was expecting this one to be a bigger game than it’s turning out to be. TCU has lost three of their last five and the Gators still haven’t found a consistent rhythm. It could end up being a big push for the postseason for the winner though.

South Carolina at Oklahoma State

1 p.m. CT | ESPNU

Oklahoma State is dealing with the dismissal of multiple players from their program and South Carolina has risen from the dead in SEC play. Your guess is as good as mine for this one.

Texas at Georgia

1 p.m. CT | ESPN2

A Sugar Bowl rematch! Texas should win this one as well.

Kansas State at Texas A&M

1 p.m. CT | ESPN

This one being on the main ESPN channel won’t be the best showcase for the sport. The Wildcats have bounced back from losing their first two conference games and are now riding a five game winning streak.

West Virginia at #1 Tennessee

3 p.m. CT | ESPN

West Virginia beat Kansas! And Kansas beat Tennessee! So with the transitive propert-

-no Tennessee is probably wining this game by 20+ points.

Vanderbilt at Oklahoma

3 p.m. CT | ESPN2

Vanderbilt came oh so close to upsetting the Vols, now they have to travel to Norman and avoid a hangover loss.

Arkansas at #14 Texas Tech

5 p.m. CT | ESPN2

The Red Raiders are coming into this game losers of three straight. They’re still going to overmatch the Hogs with talent and will be glad to be back in front of their home crowd after two road losses to Baylor and Kansas State.

#9 Kansas at #8 Kentucky

5 p.m. CT | ESPN

The whole reason this challenge was made was so these two blue bloods can get games against each other semi-regularly. Still it should be a good matchup of two teams with enormously high ceilings.

The Non-SEC/Big 12 Challenge Games

#23 LSU at Missouri | 5 p.m. CT | SECN

#16 Auburn at #22 Mississippi State | 7:30 p.m. CT | SECN

Here’s the best part about the SEC/Big 12 challenge, or at least the funniest. The SEC massively screwed up the scheduling for it. Half of the conference’s ranked teams will not be participating. This is because the SEC has set up a system that meant the bottom four teams in the conference in 2017 would not participate in 2018 and 2019.

With how quickly things can change with recruiting and transfers in college basketball, having this system in place means the SEC gets to do this with one hand tied behind their backs. If you want to showcase the best teams in your conference, you can’t have that system in place and successfully schedule an event like this.

So remember, when the final window of games starts and ESPN pops up a graphic that shows the SEC is down 6-2 in the challenge, remember that the conference didn’t put half of their top tier teams in the event.