Despite the first two months of the season starting way off track for the Southeastern Conference, Saturday is the chance to turn all of that around and completely flip the script heading into the gauntlet of February in the SEC.
Two SEC schools will play host to two top-five teams when Number one ranked Baylor will travel to Florida to take on the Gators, and the third-ranked Jayhawks will travel to Tennessee.
The SEC and Big 12 challenge has turned into one of the premier college basketball since the start in 2013. The Big 12 has won the challenge four times compared to the lone SEC win.
Starting with the early tip-offs, here are the matchups you won't want to miss!
With an 11:00 tip-off, the 16th ranked Auburn Tigers will welcome the Iowa State Cyclones to the Plains. Auburn comes into the game looking to win back to back games. Auburn and Iowa State can be seen on ESPNU.
Staying with the 11:00 tip-offs, the Missouri Tigers will travel to Morgantown West Virginia to take on the 14th ranked Mountaineers. Missouri will have their hands full in Morgantown on Saturday. That game can be seen on ESPN.
Now on to the mid-afternoon games.
Starting in the Longhorn state, the LSU Tigers will travel to Austin to take on a depleted Texas team. On paper, LSU should run away with this game early. Texas has struggled all season with finding an identity. LSU comes into the game with Texas undefeated in conference play and hungry for more. Texas and LSU will tip-off at 1:00 and can be watched on ESPN following the conclusion of Missouri and West Virginia.
The red hot Mississippi State Bulldogs will travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Oklahoma Sooners in a highly anticipated matchup. The Bulldogs seem to have found their swagger heading into the SEC/ Big 12 challenge, winners of the last three games. Mississippi State and Oklahoma will tip-off at 1:00 on ESPN2.
To the late afternoon games, we go with the basketball action heating up with these three matchups.
We'll start with two former Big 12 rivals for a matchup in College State, Texas. This matchup between the Aggies of Texas A&M and the Oklahoma State Cowboys will be one for the record books. These two teams have a long history of epic matchups dating back to 1994. These two have met 35 times on the hardwood with the Cowboys holding an all-time 24-11 lead over the Aggies.
Two old Southwest Conference foes will meet again on the hardwood as the Razorbacks of Arkansas will host TCU on Saturday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena. These two teams have met 142 times dating back to the 1923-1924 season. The Razorbacks lead the all-time series 103-56. Arkansas and TCU will tip-off at 3:00 and can be viewed on ESPN2.
The battle on Rocky Top between the Tennessee Volunteers and Kansas Jayhawks will be must-watch TV at 3:00 central on ESPN. The Jayhawks come into the game with the Volunteers looking to make a statement after the incident on Tuesday night against Kansas State.
The nightcap of the SEC/ Big 12 challenge is set up to be one of the best nights of the college basketball season.
Alabama will welcome Kansas State to Tuscaloosa for an epic battle between the Crimson Tide and Wildcats. Alabama Head Coach, Nate Oats has his Crimson Tide playing at a high level, especially playing at Coleman Coliseum. At home, Alabama is 7-1 overall. Alabama and Kansas State will tip-off at 5:00 on ESPN2.
Before we get into the game of the day between Kentucky and Texas Tech, let's take a quick look at Baylor and Florida.
The number one team in the country, the Baylor Bears will travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators. Mike White and his Gators will look to put an end to the Baylor winning steak and continue the streak of the upsetting top-ranked team in the country. Baylor and Florida will tip-off at 8:00 local time and can be seen on ESPN.
Lastly, the game of the day, the Kentucky Wildcats will head to Lubbock, Texas to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders for a highly anticipated matchup between a blue blood in Kentucky, and one of the best up and coming basketball programs in the country. The last meeting between these two programs came back in 1994 with Kentucky coming out on top 83-68. This will be the 5th meeting between the two schools with Kentucky holding the advantage of four wins and zero losses. This will be an excellent matchup for college basketball across the country to watch. Kentucky and Texas Tech will tip-off at 5:00 central and can be seen on ESPN.
Today is a big day for the Southeastern Conference to make a statement to the rest of the college basketball world. If the SEC can find a way to win the challenge today, it will send a clear message to the rest of the college basketball world that the SEC is a true contender this year.