The Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences have announced that their top non-conference challenge series will be moving to January, beginning with the 2015-16 season. All contests in next season’s Big 12/SEC Challenge will move from December to January 30, 2016.
“We are excited to move this event to January to provide the Big 12 a unique showcase and help ESPN give the Big 12/SEC Challenge the attention it deserves,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Our teams have shown a commitment to scheduling tough non-conference opponents and should be commended for setting a new standard by placing a key non-league matchup in the middle of the conference season.”
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise every game of the third annual event matching each Big 12 squad with 10 members from the Southeastern Conference. Each conference will host five games, with the matchups and participating teams to be determined.
For 2015-16, both conferences are creating a common open date during conference play to showcase the Challenge, with late January (or early February) becoming a fixture moving forward.
“This will be a high profile non-conference series on our networks in the middle of the league season,” noted Nick Dawson, Senior Director, Programming & Acquisitions at ESPN. “It will be a special showcase for the challenge and be a great day of college basketball action on the ESPN networks.
This season’s challenge was held from Dec. 3-6, with the Big 12 winning the event after recording six victories. The Big 12 posted a 7-3 record in the inaugural challenge two years ago, which was played across various dates in November and December.
Seven of the teams in this season’s Challenge were ranked in the Associated Press top 25 at the time of the event. Seven of the teams are also currently ranked in the top 25, including a nation’s-best six from the Big 12 Conference.
The Big 12 has posted a 41-27 (.603) record in the last two conference challenge series it has played (vs. Pac-10, SEC) dating back to 2007.