Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The Big 12/SEC Challenge pairings were released on Tuesday and the Kansas State Wildcats will face the Rebels of Ole Miss in Manhattan on December 5th later this year. The inaugural event will remind many fans of the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Challenge that was discontinued after the 2010-11 season, although remains overshadowed by the ever popular Big 10/ACC Challenge.
Kansas State is coming off of a regular season Big 12 co-championship in which the Wildcats finished 27-8 with a 14-4 league record before exiting the NCAA tournament way too early against La Salle – a common thread they share with Ole Miss. The Rebels surprised #5 Wisconsin in their first game of the tournament before meeting the La Salle Explorers in their second match up. And just like their game against K-State, La Salle was able to escape with a two point win on its way to the Sweet Sixteen.
Ole Miss was one of the SEC’s best team’s last year, finishing 27-9 and 12-6 in the conference (a lot of similarities to K-State’s trajectory this past season). The team finished second in the regular season but defeated Florida to claim the SEC tournament championship. They are led by soon-to-be senior guard Marshall Henderson, whose on-court antics have gotten him in hot water during his time at Ole Miss. Some of those were forgiven as he averaged 20.1 points for the team. Senior F Murphy Holloway – the team’s second leading scorer and top rebounder – will have to be replaced.
Only ten of the SEC’s 14 teams will participate this year, with each Big 12 team playing one SEC opponent. And although Missouri will be part of the party, the leagues came to a pretty lame agreement by matching the Tigers against Big 12 newcomer West Virginia. Texas A&M will also participate, finishing off the Challenge with a neutral site game against Oklahoma in Houston, TX. Other notable match ups are Baylor against Kentucky and KU against Florida.
Thursday, November 14
Texas Tech at Alabama
Monday, December 2
Vanderbilt at Texas
Auburn at Iowa State
Thursday, December 5
TCU at Mississippi State
Ole Miss at Kansas State
West Virginia at Missouri
Friday, December 6
South Carolina at Oklahoma State
Kentucky vs. Baylor (in Arlington, Texas)
Tuesday, December 10
Kansas at Florida
Saturday, December 21
Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma (in Houston, Texas)