June 1, 2012
ESPN announced the matchups for the 2012 SEC/Big East Challenge Friday, and Tennessee is set to travel to Georgetown for a Nov. 30 showdown at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
The 2012 Challenge features 12 games. After five seasons, the Challenge - previously contested as the "SEC/Big East Invitational" - is led by the Big East Conference, which holds a 16-12 advantage. The Vols are 2-1, with a 2008 victory over Marquette and a split with Pittsburgh over the past two seasons.
"I think this is a great matchup," UT head coach Cuonzo Martin said. "I've got a tremendous amount of respect for (head coach) John Thompson III and Georgetown as a program. We got a chance to see them up close last season in Maui, and even though we didn't end up facing each other there, it was clear that they had a roster full of athletic, tough basketball players. And I know they're extremely well coached.
"I hope we'll have a lot of Tennessee fans make the trip to D.C., because they're support in big road games like this is vital."
Last season, Georgetown posted a 24-9 (12-6 Big East) record and finished fourth in their league under head coach John Thompson III. The Hoyas lost to NC State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
Georgetown will be led in 2012-13 by returners Otto Porter, Greg Whittington and Nate Lubick.
"They lost Hollis Thompson, Jason Clark and Henry Sims, but they've still got a lot of talent and experience coming back," Martin said.
Tennessee and Georgetown have only met twice previously on the hardwood, with the series deadlocked at 1-1. The Hoyas came to Knoxville for the first round of the 2003 NIT and posted a 70-60 win over the Vols on March 18, 2003. Tennessee's victory in the series came in the 2008 Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., when the Big Orange logged a 90-78 triumph on Nov. 28, 2008, to advance to the tournament final.
Each conference will host six 2012 Challenge games. On Thursday, Nov. 29, St. John's hosts South Carolina, LSU hosts Seton Hall, Notre Dame hosts Kentucky and Florida hosts Marquette. In addition to the Vols-Hoyas clash on Friday, Nov. 30, South Florida hosts Georgia, Auburn hosts DePaul and Arkansas hosts Syracuse. And on Saturday, Dec. 1, Providence hosts Mississippi State, Ole Miss hosts Rutgers, Cincinnati hosts Alabama and Vanderbilt hosts Villanova.
Game times and television networks will be announced at a later date, though all games will be telecast nationally on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU).
The Big Orange own a 40-42 all-time record against current members of the Big East and have won six of their last eight games against Big East opposition, including triumphs over Villanova, Pitt and UConn in the past two seasons. Tennessee owns an 0-2 record in games played in Washington, D.C., with losses to George Washington in 1917 and 1937.
Since 1999, the SEC and Big East have combined for 15 Final Four appearances and seven national championships.