The Big 12 Conference had been looking for a men’s basketball challenge series partner since it ended the agreement with the Pac-12 after the 2011 season.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
The SEC needed a new challenge partner after the demise of the Big East this year.
Tuesday, they officially found each other with the announcement of a 10-game series called the Big 12/SEC Challenge, which will take place mostly in early December. In 2014, the event will be called the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The highlights: Mississippi, led by the brash Marshall Henderson, visiting Kansas State on Dec. 5. The same day, West Virginia visits Missouri.
On Dec. 6, Baylor and Kentucky tangle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, site of the 2014 Final Four.
Kansas visits Florida on Dec. 10.
All games will be televised on one of the ESPN networks.
All 10 of the Big 12 schools will play every year, but the 14-team SEC is expected to participate on a rotating basis. Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee will not participate this season.
Also not on the slate: Kansas vs. Missouri.
The longtime rivals are closing in on the first year without competition. When Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC, the Jayhawks said they weren’t interested in scheduling the Tigers in non-league competition.
Big 12 and SEC officials had talked about playing a challenge series in doubleheaders at neutral sites — and two of the games are away from home floors. Besides Kentucky-Baylor at Cowboys Stadium, Oklahoma will take on Texas A&M in Houston.
“This is equity based,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “Our best teams will be matched up against their best teams, middle teams against middle teams and those building their programs against others doing the same.”
Said SEC commissioner Mike Slive: “The ability to showcase SEC basketball in this kind of conference competition makes this a unique and exciting event … We are pleased to be able to work with the Big 12 and ESPN to highlight the sport of men’s basketball.”