Texas Tech will have a chance to prove it belongs among college basketball's powerhouse programs on a national stage after reaching the national championship game and Elite Eight the past two seasons.
According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, the Red Raiders will face the Kentucky Wildcats in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge during the 2019-20 season. Kentucky is one of the sport's ultimate blue bloods, and Texas Tech has the opportunity to add a marquee win to its resume and prove it is for real in front of its home fans.
The other matchups are Tennessee at Kansas, Baylor at Florida, Mississippi State at Oklahoma, Missouri at West Virginia, Oklahoma State at Texas A&M, LSU at Texas, Iowa State at Auburn, Kansas State at Alabama and TCU at Arkansas.
Due to the size difference of the conferences, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Georgia will not compete against a Big 12 school on Jan. 26, when the other 10 games occur.
The Big 12 has been historically dominant in this challenge and won six of the 10 contests last season. Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated noted the SEC’s only overall win against the Big 12 came during the 2017-18 campaign.
These showdowns represent a unique challenge and opportunity for the participating schools. On the one hand, they happen during the middle of conference play and disrupt the normal schedule these programs are accustomed to in January with a difficult matchup. On the other, a head-to-head win in an inter-conference game like this will go a long way in the selection committee’s eyes.
No teams will have bigger opportunities than Texas Tech, Tennessee and Baylor.
Jeff Borzello of ESPN ranked Kansas No. 2, Kentucky No. 3 and Florida No. 4 in his too-early Top 25, meaning Tennessee, Texas Tech and Baylor, who play those respective schools, could have the chance to put a win over a top-five team on their resumes if the early portion of the season plays out as expected.
The matchups could help set the stage for Selection Sunday and seedings but also serve as potential Final Four previews.