Vols to host Pitt in Big East/SEC Challenge

KNOXVILLE (UTSports.com) -- ESPN announced the matchups for the revamped 2011 Big East/SEC Challenge Thursday, and Tennessee is set to host Pittsburgh Dec. 3 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The 2011 Challenge marks the expansion from four games to 12, with each matchup taking place at campus venues rather than neutral sites as in years past.

“This is a great opportunity to play a high-level opponent,” UT head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Pitt is an elite program that has been very successful for a number of years. We’re looking forward to the challenge, and I think our fans will be excited about it.”

Each conference will host six Challenge games. On Thursday, Dec. 1, Alabama hosts Georgetown, South Carolina hosts Providence, Kentucky hosts St. John’s and Ole Miss plays at DePaul. On Friday, Dec. 2, Auburn plays at Seton Hall, Florida travels to Syracuse, Georgia hosts Cincinnati and Vanderbilt travels to Louisville. And in addition to the Vols-Panthers clash on Saturday, Dec. 3, Mississippi State hosts West Virginia, LSU plays at Rutgers and Arkansas plays at UConn.

Game times and television networks will be announced in mid-August, though all games will be telecast nationally on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU).

After four seasons, the Challenge—previously contested as the “SEC/Big East Invitational”—is deadlocked at 8-8. The Vols, however, are a perfect 2-0.

Tennessee shocked third-ranked Pitt at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., last season. It was the Panthers’ first non-conference loss in their home city in nearly six years. The Vols’ only other previous appearance in the event resulted in an 80-68 win over 24th-ranked Marquette in Nashville, Tenn., in 2009.

The Big Orange own a 39-41 all-time record against current members of the Big East and have won five of their last six games against Big East opposition. Tennessee holds a 4-1 all-time advantage in head-to-head meetings with Pitt, dating to 1961.

Since 1999, the SEC and Big East have combined for 13 Final Four appearances and six national championships.

In addition to its game against Pitt, Tennessee also hosts defending national champion UConn this coming season at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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