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Bama hoops set to host Georgetown

The SEC office today announced the pairings for the newly designed Big East-SEC Challenge, which will feature all 12 SEC schools facing a Big East opponent during the 3-day event. Four games will be played each day at campus locations on Thursday December 1, Friday December 2 and Saturday December 3. All 12 games will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Alabama will be playing on the opening night of the event, Thursday December 1, hosting traditional powerhouse Georgetown. Having this game on the schedule is great for two reasons: it will give the young players a chance in the second week of the season to play in front of a big home crowd, and it will surely help to boost the Tide's non-conference resume when tournament selection time rolls around.

There are several reasons why this could and should be a massive crowd for a very early season showdown in Tuscaloosa. For starters, expectations and excitement for next year's basketball season are the highest they've been in over a decade. It will be the first time Alabama has hosted a non-conference game against a power conference team since Purdue visited two years ago. Furthermore, unlike that Purdue game, school will still be in session and student turnout should be very high on a weeknight during UA's "dead week". And finally, it certainly helps that the game will be played on a Thursday night, safely two days before the SEC football championship game.

Georgetown finished last season in the middle of a crowded Big East pack that included an all-time record 11 NCAA Tournament teams. They were awarded a #6 seed in the Big Dance--meaning they were among the top 24 teams in the country--but became the first in a long line of VCU upset victims in the opening round of the tournament. Expectations should be relatively low by Georgetown standards for next season, as they lost three starters, including their top two scorers. Still, in all likelihood Georgetown will be expected to make their way into the NCAA Tournament yet again, and as we so painfully discovered last season, the more quality teams you can play, especially early on, the better.

Here are the other pairings for the Big East-SEC Challenge:

Thursday, December 1
St. John's @ Kentucky
Georgetown @ Alabama
Providence @ South Carolina
Mississippi @ DePaul

Friday, December 2
Vanderbilt @ Louisville
Florida @ Syracuse
Cincinnati @ Georgia
Auburn @ Seton Hall

Saturday, December 3
Arkansas @ Connecticut
West Virginia @ Mississippi State
Pittsburgh @ Tennessee
LSU @ Rutgers