The Dagger - NCAAB

The expanded Big East/SEC challenge will be a marquee eventThe Big Ten/ACC challenge may have far greater pedigree, but the fledgling Big East/SEC challenge will have more must-watch games next fall.

ESPN released a slate of 12 games in three days on Thursday that highlights the depth of both leagues next season.

Kentucky will host St. John's on Dec. 1 in a matchup of teams that landed two of the best freshman classes in the nation. Vanderbilt will visit Louisville on Dec. 2 in a game that could pit two preseason top 10 teams against one-another. And Dec. 2 will also feature a Florida-Syracuse matchup at the Carrier Dome that should draw plenty of attention.

Even the undercard features some games that will appeal to knowledgeable fans.

West Virginia's visit to Mississippi State on Dec. 3 offers an early chance to see if a full year of  Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost will help vault the Bulldogs back into NCAA tournament contention. Plus, the Georgetown-Alabama tilt will be an early test for a Crimson Tide team that enters next season with top 25 expectations.

As good as the SEC/Big East slate is, organizers did swing and miss on a couple matchups. Didn't defending national champion UConn deserve a better showcase than a game against rebuilding Arkansas? And while the battle of freshmen will be compelling between St. John's and Kentucky, shouldn't the SEC favorites have drawn a Big East contender like Syracuse, UConn or Pittsburgh?

Still, those are just quibbles. This is a promising event that hopefully will have as long a shelf life as its ACC/Big Ten counterpart.

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