Tonight, the final conference challenge of the season--the Big East/SEC Invitational--gets underway. Unlike the other events of its ilk, the Invitational is set up as a pair of doubleheaders, one hosted by a city in the SEC footprint and the other in a Big East market. The second game always features a nearby school, though typically both contests will have a significant local interest.
The first doubleheader of the 2010 event will take place in Louisville--at Freedom Hall, not the new downtown arena--where Kentucky will serve as the
de facto home team. Freedom Hall now has a UK-specific court, which will be used tonight.
The second doubleheader of the event takes place Saturday afternoon at the new downtown arena in Pittsburgh, where Pitt will host Tennessee after Rutgers plays Auburn.
After the jump, I'll run through Wednesday's Big East vs. SEC twin bill and the rest of tonight's TV schedule.
If a team's name appears as a link, click it to visit that school's SB Nation blog for more coverage.
Big East/SEC Invitational at Louisville
Arkansas vs. Seton Hall, ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET): Former Kentucky Wildcat John Pelphrey brings his Razorbacks to Louisville as a slight favorite, thanks to a decent defense, something that could cause Mike Rice's Pirates some trouble. The Hall has lost some offensive punch after Jeremy Hazell went down with a broken wrist after lighting up Alabama in the Paradise Jam semifinals.
Notre Dame vs. Kentucky, ESPN (approx. 9:30 p.m. ET): The Wildcats' highly-touted youngsters will look to hand a surprising, veteran Notre Dame team its first loss of the season. John Calipari's team needs to bounce back from Saturday's tough loss at North Carolina, while the Fighting Irish could be a bit rusty, as they last played more than a week ago. Both teams feature five players who average at least 9 points per game, so there's balance for both rosters. Statistically, the Wildcats' defensive efficiency rates better than the Irish's, but having watched both teams a few times, it seems Mike Brey's team gets stops at more opportune times. UK's poor foul shooting may also be an issue late.
If a conference challenge doesn't exactly whet your appetite, here are some other choices for tonight.
North Carolina at Evansville, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET): The Purple Aces welcome a Tar Heel team that just toppled Kentucky Saturday to Roberts Stadium for a game that will serve as a homecoming for UNC's Tyler Zeller, who's from nearby Washington. Evansville earned a bit of buzz a week and a half ago with their huge win at Butler. However, they followed that triumph up with a one-point loss at Air Force in the MWC-MVC Challenge Sunday.
- Vermont vs. BYU at Glens Falls, NY, CBS College (7 p.m. ET): The Cougars travel across the country to take on the defending America East champs in their backyard. The reason: Jimmer Fredette is a Glens Falls native. BYU has opened the season with eight straight victories, and should make it nine, but expect the Catamounts (6-1, with the loss coming at UConn) to not fall easily.
- Bradley at Duke, ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET): Game two of tonight's Tobacco Road vs. Missouri Valley doubleheader takes place at Cameron Indoor, where the Blue Devils should handle a decent Braves team. Jim Les' squad is shorthanded now, as all-MVC guard Sam Maniscalco is out for the year with an ankle injury (while forward Taylor Brown will also have to redshirt because of a heart problem).
Vanderbilt at Missouri, ESPNU (9 p.m. ET): The Tigers will attempt to run the Commodores out of Mizzou Arena, but like Georgetown last week, Vandy has the talent to put up a good fight. This one may not be as exciting as the Hoyas' 111-102 OT win, but it could be close.
Oklahoma State at Tulsa, CBS College (9 p.m. ET): These two avoided each other at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, but will meet at the BOK Center this evening. The Golden Hurricane are looking for their second straight win over the Cowboys, having won on campus by 21 last season.
- Milwaukee at Wisconsin, Big Ten Network (9 p.m. ET): The Panthers head to Madison looking to end a 17-game losing streak against the Badgers. Wisconsin won by 10 at the Kohl Center last season, and a similar result looks to be in the cards tonight.
Gonzaga at Washington State, FSN/Comcast SportsNet (11 p.m. ET): The Cougars haven't beaten the Bulldogs since December 5, 2007. Wazzu happened to make the Sweet 16 that season. With the Zags reeling a bit after losing to Illinois in Seattle on Saturday, Klay Thompson and company have a nice chance to pull the upset and gain a name win, something they just missed against Kansas State on Friday.
If that's still not enough basketball for you, here are a few more games to check out...
- San Francisco at Louisville, Big East Network/WHAS/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET)
- Western Kentucky at Bowling Green, WKYU/FCS Central (7 p.m. ET)
- Air Force at Wright State, Horizon League Network (7 p.m. ET)
- Fairleigh Dickinson at Connecticut, Big East Network/SNY/Altitude 2/ESPN3/Full Court (7:30 p.m. ET)
- Prairie View A&M at Texas A&M, FS Southwest+/FS Houston/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
- SIU Edwardsville at Loyola-Chicago, Horizon League Network (8 p.m. ET)
- Cal State Fullerton at AArizona, KWBA/FCS Atlantic (8:30 p.m. ET)
- UT Pan American at Northern Arizona, University House/FCS Pacific (8:30 p.m. ET)
For information about games that will be aired regionally, like Loyola (MD) at George Mason, Villanova at Penn, Rhode Island at Northeastern, UNC Greensboro at Maryland, Ball State at Eastern Illinois, Colorado State at Colorado, and San Diego State at California, visit Matt Sarz's College Sports on TV site. Another good resource is the schedule page at BB State.
Please share your thoughts about today and tonight's action in the comments, after you sign up for a free SB Nation account, of course.
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