How are you? Having a great holiday season? That’s great. Where are you playing Santa Claus this year? Oh, you’re not? My bad. Still you look…great. No seriously, you do.
Can you feel the palpable excitement in the air, friends? That sizzling electricity of North Vs. South? It can only mean one thing — the SEC/Big East Two-Night Invitational Tournament is about to begin, which means our familiar favorites from the SEC will be taking on some fresher faces for this time of year. Another Invitational might take the time to build up a bracket and have some fun with it, but not the SEC/Big East Invitational. You get two games for two nights and you’ll like it. As we’ll all be scouting our conference competition (see what I did there, Auburn?) over the next couple of evenings, we might as well take a little peek at the faces we’ll see Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas and the Mighty Cayts playing during this particular event in a piece we’d like to call Getting to Know the SEC/Big East Invitational. Please, join me. Because talking about Rutgers is so lonely to do on one’s own, isn’t it?
NOTRE DAME (vs. Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. Wedesday, ESPN)
Location: South Bend, Indiana
Overview: Few basketball teams can bost both the infallible power of the Catholic Church and an adult leprechaun with a line beard, but Notre Dame continues to pull it off nicely. Led by senior Tim Abromaitis, the Irish seem to be rolling thus far, and with Ben Hansbrough still vying for his parent’s approval (“Why won’t you love me? I’m not Tyler, okay? I’ll never be Tyler!”) they seem to have a lot to prove. All of the time Mike Brey saves on necktie shopping goes toward honing his team, and though they’re not a terrible enough ND team to score a lucrative NBC contract, they’re scrappers nonetheless. A recently vacated position left by oafish behemoth Luke Harangody threatened to leave the Irish short, but they’re back — which is surprising since many didn’t realize that anyone else on the team was physically able to shoot a basketball.
Fun Fact: Each year, one guard from Notre Dame graduates and is selected to star as a blue-collar dockworker extra in a Ben Affleck film.
SETON HALL (vs. Arkansas, 7 p.m., Wednesday, ESPN2)
Overview: With three wins under their belts, two coming from Alabama and Cornell (who, if you’ll recall, is sooooo good), the Seton Hall Pirates even record is impressive enough for a team and university which no one is really sure actually exists. Though coach Kevin Willard gives the appearance of an accountant ready to snap, he joins the Pirates after an impressive season at Iona.
Fun Fact: Seton Hall’s fight song is “Onward Setonia,” which is sung as follows:
Hail, hail Seton Hall,
Stand proud and stand tall,
From the Caroline J. Schwartz College of Nursing
To the Richie Regan Recreation and Athletic Center
And also the Bishop Doughterty University Center!
It is a rather unwieldy fight song.
RUTGERS (Vs. Auburn, 12:30 p.m., December 11, ESPN2)
Location: Piscataway, NJ
Overview: Rutgers early season wins have come against schools like Marist, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Norfolk State and Fairfield, so they’re pretty stiff competition. I’m just kidding. The Scarlet Knights have a new coach in Mike Rice, who you may remember from his successes at Robert Morris last season, and sophomore Dane Miller was probably the only guy of note for the Knights last season. Though many experts are picking Rutgers to fall very low — if not last — in the Big East rankings, the school still does have funding for a basketball team, and by God they’re going to use that money because they’ll be damned if it’s going to to go the women’s track team again.
Fun Fact: Rutgers claims notable alumni James Gandolfini and porn star Asia Carrera, both known for heavy breathing, and Mario Batali, who is known for still wearing crocs.
PITTSBURGH (Vs. Tennessee, 3:15 p.m., December 11, ESPN)
Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Overview: Highly ranked Pitt have a special coach in Jaime Dixon, who both made things particularly awkward for Matt and the CBS Road Crew during a trip to Marquette in early 2010 and has consistently turned out great seasons for Panthers fans. This season looks to be not much different, returning four of its five top scorers and seven of its eight top scorers. Unfortunately, at the end of each great new victory, the team must return to Pittsburgh, our nation’s most terrible city.
Fun Fact: Pitt’s student cheering section has been known to be particularly formidable, earning the name “The Oakland Zoo.” This is because the school’s gym is both located in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland and features several giraffes, an Indian elephant and two bears. There have been several student fatalities because of this, as proper safety precautions have not traditionally been taken to handle these animals.
There you have it then, friends. The SEC vs. The Big East. We’ll see if our boys can handle things appropriately. Until next time, friends, enjoy the holidays season.