Over the past four years, the Big East and SEC have fooled around with the notion of a basketball challenge, playing a series of doubleheaders in NBA/NHL arenas in front of occasionally sparse crowds (looking straight at you DePaul and Mississippi State, who entertained literally dozens in Tampa in 2009, just before Syracuse met in front of a surprisingly pro-Orange crowd). Now, the two conferences have decided to jump into full challenge mode, well, as completely as two leagues of differing sizes can, moving the games on campus and within a three-day late week window.
It appears that a few of the games are return contests from the previous "Invitational" incarnation of the Challenge, though Georgetown played Alabama in Birmingham back in 2007 and will meet them at Coleman Coliseum this time around. With the Hoyas an unknown quantity, it's a bit surprising that the Crimson Tide, a team that's expected to build on its NIT runner-up finish, wasn't assigned to play, oh, Pittsburgh, a team that gets to play Tennessee for the second season in a row, even though the Volunteers are expected to struggle.
Still, there are plenty of matchups that will be worth a watch, even though I am a bit peeved (OK, perhaps more than a bit) that my two favorite teams, the Gators and Orange, are paired yet again, this time at the Carrier Dome, a building that holds fond memories for Florida fans, thanks to the 2000 East Regional.
This information also appears on my 2011 Conference Challenges page.