The Big East may be considered the deepest and best conference in college basketball, but the SEC boasts the reigning national champions and the perceptibly superior conference saw many teams bow out prematurely in last year's NCAA tournament.
That should only add to the intrigue of the 2012 challenge between these two powerhouse conferences, especially with the Big East winning eight of the 12 contests in last year's inaugural event.
Despite some notable teams not participating, such as the second-ranked Louisville Cardinals, the complete schedule sports several marquee matchups featuring some of the nation's best teams.
Top Players to Watch:
Nerlens Noel, F, Kentucky
Considered the nation's No. 1 recruit by some, the freshman has been an absolute force thus far for the Wildcats. Rocking that hi-top fade hairdo, Noel has backed up the hype that surrounded him coming out of Everett High School.
A staggering stat line characterizes his short but astounding career resume to date: 12.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.6 blocks and 2.6 steals per game.
With his ability to protect the paint, it will be intriguing to see how Noel matches up with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, particularly against forward Jack Cooley.
The Irish have struggled offensively early on with the exception of their senior leader. The Irish will have a home crowd to support them at the Joyce Center and Cooley must have a big game for Notre Dame to have a prayer at the upset, which would place them in the AP Top 25 in all likelihood.
But this will be a big national stage for Noel to showcase his abilities, and he will want to help the Wildcats make up for the early loss to Duke with a dominant performance on his behalf.
Kenny Boynton, G, Florida
The four-year starter has always had a scorer's mentality, and made a big leap in his junior season after shooting below 40 percent in the first two seasons of his collegiate career.
In the absence of lottery pick Bradley Beal, it will be up to Boynton to pick up some of the scoring slack for the Gators. Boynton looks up to the task thus far as he has started the year shooting nearly 45 percent from beyond the arc and leads the team with an average of over 16 points per game.
Expectations have been curbed for Marquette this year, but the Golden Eagles will not be an easy out even with the game taking place in the friendly confines of the O'Connell Center.
Marquette has only lost by one point to Butler so far, and massive junior forward Davante Gardner is sure to be a matchup nightmare for perimeter-oriented Erik Murphy.
It will be up to Boynton to continue serving as the catalyst for the Gators, who have gotten relatively balanced scoring this year, but it starts with him.
Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse
The Orange lost a lot of talent from last year's squad, but Carter-Williams is proving to be an outstanding distributor at the point guard position thus far. Unable to crack the rotation consistently in his first year, Carter-Williams is averaging a whopping 9.3 assists per game so far.
That's not all the uniquely gifted Carter-Williams brings to the table, though. His 6'6" size allows him to be a disruptive force on the defensive end, as he's averaged four steals per game this season.
Carter-Williams' height has also translated into grabbing 5.5 rebounds per contest in the early going. Again, it's still a very small sample size, but it's extremely impressive all the same.
The Arkansas Razorbacks aren't exactly known as a basketball powerhouse, but it's also difficult to gauge just how good this Syracuse team will be in 2012-13. A lot of the team's success will hinge on Carter Williams and others stepping up to fill the void from last year's immensely talented team.
Here is the complete schedule for the Big East-SEC showdowns (h/t CBS Sports):
Thursday, November 29
7:00 p.m. ET: Notre Dame vs. No. 8 Kentucky, ESPN2
7:30 p.m. ET: St. John's vs. South Carolina, ESPNU
9:00 p.m. ET: Marquette vs. No. 7 Florida, ESPN2
9:30 p.m. ET: Seton Hall vs. LSU, ESPNU
Friday, November 30
6:30 p.m. ET: Georgetown vs. Tennessee, ESPN
7:00 p.m. ET: South Florida vs. Georgia, ESPN
8:30 p.m. ET: Arkansas vs. No. 6 Syracuse, ESPN
9:00 p.m. ET: Auburn vs. DePaul, ESPNU
Saturday, December 1
3:00 p.m. ET: Cincinnati vs. Alabama, ESPN2
5:00 p.m. ET: Vanderbilt vs. Villanova, ESPN2
Providence vs. Mississippi State, ESPNU (Time TBD)
Mississippi vs. Rutgers, ESPNU (Time TBD)
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