ESPN announced this afternoon the match-ups for next season's SEC-Big XII Challenge, the second iteration of the nascent rivalry between the two conferences that hopes to compete with the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. For the second year in a row, the Gamecocks draw Oklahoma State. This time, the Cowboys come to Columbia.
Last year, the Cowboys ran roughshod over the Gamecocks in Stillwater, forcing a flurry of early turnovers on their way to an easy 79-52 victory. That helped the Big XII to a 7-3 victory over the SEC in the event.
In a frustrating turn of events, the SEC scheduled the Gamecocks on the Saturday of the SEC Championship Game (that, or South Carolina did itself no favors). That likely means a very low turnout if the Gamecocks play in Atlanta, even if the times don't overlap exactly. Last year, the Gamecocks and Cowboys squared off on the Friday night before the Bedlam game, which conspired with a massive snowstorm to limit attendance in Stillwater.
The Cowboys lose the main members of their backcourt in Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, but return three post starters in Le'Bryan Nash, Phil Forte, and Kamari Murphy from a team that was a 9 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament. They also welcome a top 30 signing class of five freshmen to the team, which includes three top-100 players.
The non-conference schedule now includes this game along with home games against Baylor and Clemson, a trip to the Charleston Classic, as well as a road game against Marshall.
The schedule for the Challenge games follows:
|Wed, Dec. 3||Auburn||Texas Tech|
|Thu, Dec. 4||Arkansas||Iowa State|
|Thu, Dec. 4||Baylor||Vanderbilt|
|Thu, Dec. 4||LSU||West Virginia|
|Thu, Dec. 4||TCU||Ole Miss|
|Fri, Dec. 5||Florida||Kansas|
|Fri, Dec. 5||Missouri||Oklahoma|
|Fri, Dec. 5||Texas||Kentucky|
|Sat, Dec. 6||Kansas St.||Tennessee|
|Sat, Dec. 6||Oklahoma St.||South Carolina|
Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State sit out for the SEC this season.