That’s the case so far, anyway, as the first season of the Big 12-SEC Basketball Challenge, which continued this week with two games early in the week and five more today and Friday. The Big 12 is off to a great start with Iowa State (6-0) winning big over Auburn and Texas (7-1) getting by Vanderbilt, both on Monday and both games on Big 12 floors in Anes, Iowa, and Austin.
Earlier this season, Oklahoma rallied in the second half to defeat Alabama in the Tipoff Showcase played on the season-opening weekend in Dallas. That gives the Big 12 a 4-0 overall advantage in men’s basketball games this season between the two conferences. The Oklahoma-Alabama game did not count as part of the Challenges series between the two conferences. The Crimson Tide avenged its loss to Oklahoma, however, with a 12-point win over Texas Tech (6-3) in mid-November, officially tipping off the Big 12-SEC Challenge for this year..
The Big 12 owns a 9-3 record against SEC teams over the last two seasons. Since the conference was formed in the 1996-97 season, the Big 12 is 84-73 against the SEC in basketball.
“The (Big 12-SEC Basketball Challenge) will add more quality opponents to our schools’ annually strong nonconference schedules and provide an additional avenue to showcase some outstanding intersectional matchups,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said at the time the agreement was announced between the two conferences.
Three more Challenge games are scheduled for Thursday night: TCU is at Mississippi State, Mississippi plays at Kansas State (4-3) and, former Big 12 school Missouri hosts West Virginia (6-2). On Friday night, South Carolina visits Oklahoma State (7-1), ranked ninth in this week’s AP poll, 20th-ranked Baylor travels to Lexington, Ky., to take on Kentucky the nation’s No. 3 team.
After this weekend, two more games are scheduled in December as part of the Big-12-SEC Basketball Challenge this season. Sixth-ranked Kansas (6-1) goes to Gainesville, Fla., next Tuesday (Dec. 10 ) to play No. 15 Florida, and Oklahoma (6-1) and Texas A&M, another former Big 12 school, will cap off this year’s Challenge with a game Dec. 21 at the Toyota Center in Houston.
Because of the disparity in the number of teams in the two conferences (there are 10 schools presently in the Big 12, 14 in the SEC), four SEC teams will be excluded each year the Big 12-SEC Challenge series is held. This season Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia and LSU will not participate in the series.
Through games of Wednesday this week, the Big 12 has a record of 59-16 against nonconference competition, a winning percentage of .790. That is the second best winning percentage of any conference in the country. The Big 12’s 16 combined losses is the fewest of any conference. Three of the conference’s 59 wins this season are against teams ranked at the time in the country’s top 11: No. 4 Duke (by Kansas), No. 7 Michigan (by Iowa State) and No. 11 Memphis (by Oklahoma State).
Four Big 12 teams – No. 6 Kansas, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 17 Iowa State and No. 20 Baylor – are ranked in the AP top 25 this week, the most of any conference. Two SEC teams are ranked in the top 25: No. 3 Kentucky and No. 15 Florida.