The Big 12/SEC Challenge Needs to Rethink Its Scheduling Principles

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 16th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The beauty of early non-conference tournaments exists in their compressed schedules. Teams with different capabilities and ceilings typically meet up in a tropical locale, stage a raft of competitive games in a compacted two or three-day window, a champion is crowned and, fin. That is how non-conference events should be: quick, clean, blurringly thrilling, a drive-by snapshot of prospective NCAA Tournament match-ups, a winter sampling of the sport’s crowning postseason event. Think Feast Week, or the Champions Classic, or Maui. The accumulation of quality teams and coaches and players gives each event its own unique brand of entertainment value each and every year, but the timeless temporal convenience of rapid-fire completion is what we value most. It calls upon the spirit of March in November, with more equalized match-ups, less auto-birth low-majors and coaches in ridiculous Hawaiian floral shirts. These cute little early-season gauntlets don’t need fixing. Make more of them. Invite better teams.

Two weak leagues and a scattered set of games could push this season's Big 12-SEC challenge into the abyss of early-season tournaments.

Two weak leagues and a scattered set of games could push this season’s Big 12/SEC Challenge into the abyss of early-season tournaments.

Whatever you do, non-conference scheduling lords, do not take any cues from the new Big 12/SEC Challenge. The leagues announced their 2013 lineup Tuesday, and at least two of the match-ups belong in the apex of this season’s partially uncovered non-conference slate. On Friday, December 6, Kentucky and its intergalactic force of indomitable freshmen will take on Baylor, who returns one of the more athletic and imposing frontcourts (Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson, Ricardo Gathers) in the country. Four days later, Kansas will take its Andrew Wiggins-equipped squad (an aside: You have no idea how great it feels not to have to include the standard “we don’t know where he’s going” disclaimer every time I type Wiggins’ name. Wiggins, Kansas, got it.) to Gainesville for a meeting with five-star freshmen Kasey Hill, Chris Walker and a respectable supporting group. Those are two excellent December match-ups, spaced just four days apart, stuffed with freshmen intrigue and NBA lottery talent and future Hall of Fame coaches. They are the kinds of games everyone lives for in college basketball’s fluff-filled non-conference season.

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SEC-Big East Challenge to Become the SEC-Big 12 Challenge

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 29th, 2013

You read that correctly.

Andy Katz is reporting that the interconference event between the Southeastern and Big East conferences is no more. Katz cites the uncertainty in the Big East is to blame and that the SEC has been in negotiations with the Big 12 to be the replacement. The partnership will start during the 2013-14 season, which means that this is yet another collaborative effort between the SEC and Big 12 in addition to the football Champions Bowl (aka the Allstate Sugar Bowl) beginning on January 1, 2015.



This is a win for the Big 12. They were previously one-half of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series until that partnership was discontinued after the 2010-11 season. The potential matchups for next year are tantalizing. Another round of Florida-Kansas State maybe? The Gators could get their revenge on the Wildcats for beating them in Kansas City this season. How about Kentucky-Texas if the Longhorns can get their act together next year? We may also get some important battles between Ole Miss-Iowa State or Alabama-Oklahoma State. And dare I say, a renewal of the Kansas-Missouri rivalry? Mizzou fans would love nothing more.

It’s still funny to think how close the Big 12 was to a violent death. Now look at them. Their football seems to be in good shape and if the conference landscape were to change again, they now have plans for that too. If you are league commissioner Bob Bowlsby, life’s got to be feeling pretty good right now.

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