ESPN Regional Television, in conjunction with the BIG EAST Conference and the Southeastern Conference, announced today the eight men’s college basketball teams that will represent the two conferences in the second annual SEC/BIG EAST Invitational.
The 2008 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational, an ERT owned and operated event that features four games over two nights, will be played Dec. 16 at Nashville’s Sommet Center and Dec. 18 at Cincinnati’s U.S. Bank Arena and will be televised by ESPN and ESPN2. The annual event matches four teams from the BIG EAST Conference against four teams from the Southeastern Conference.
Tennessee, presently ranked #8 nationally, #18 Vanderbilt, #22 Ole Miss and #25 Mississippi State will represent the SEC, while #16 Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida will represent the BIG EAST.
On Dec. 16 in Nashville, Vanderbilt will face South Florida while Marquette squares off with Tennessee. On Dec. 18 in Cincinnati, Mississippi State will face Cincinnati and Ole Miss will play Louisville.
“The Southeastern Conference is pleased to partner with the BIG EAST and ESPN on this annual event to provide two nights of exciting nonconference matchups in December,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “Fans in Nashville and Cincinnati, along with a national television audience, will have an opportunity to watch four SEC teams currently ranked in the top 25.”
The BIG EAST and SEC have combined to produce four of the last five NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions (Florida – 2007 and 2006, UConn – 2004, Syracuse – 2003) and seven of the last 12 national champions (UConn – 1999, Kentucky – 1998 and 1996).
“The BIG EAST is excited to participate again with the SEC and ESPN in this annual event,” BIG EAST Commissioner Michael Tranghese said. “The two doubleheaders played at great venues in Cincinnati and Nashville will provide fans with some very exciting college basketball in December.”
In 2007, the SEC qualified five teams for the NCAA Tournament, with Florida capturing the national championship for the second straight season, and Tennessee and Vanderbilt finishing in the Sweet 16. The BIG EAST placed six teams in the Tournament, with Georgetown advancing to the Final Four. Two seasons ago, the BIG EAST sent a record eight teams to the NCAAs.
“We’re pleased with how this event continues to grow,” said Clint Overby, Senior Director of Events, ESPN Regional Television. “Both leagues, along with ESPN, have worked to create matchups in locations where we believe we can be successful.”
Teams invited to participate in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are chosen by ESPN in consultation with the conferences and are based on geographic and competitive criteria.
“It is a privilege to host this great ESPN basketball event at U.S. Bank Arena,” said Arena GM Kristin Ropp. “Featuring two great programs from the Big East and the SEC should prove to make for a memorable day of basketball in Cincinnati.”
“On behalf of the Nashville Sports Council, we are excited to host the 2008 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at the Sommet Center,” said Scott Ramsey, president and CEO of the Nashville venue. “We are confident that Music City will provide an exciting atmosphere for the players, coaches and fans of Tennessee, Marquette, Vanderbilt and South Florida.”
In the 2007 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational, Villanova, then ranked No. 21, converted a four-point play and scored 13 points in the final three minutes, overcoming a 21-point deficit and beating LSU 68-67 in Philadelphia. South Carolina beat Providence by the same margin, 68-67, in the opener in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Ala., Georgetown topped Alabama 70-60, and West Virginia beat Auburn 88-59.
Tickets for the 2008 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are expected to go on sale in late summer.
For more information, visit www.bigeastsecinvitational.com or ESPN-plus.com, home of ESPN Regional Television.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information