Runners-ups meet in Big East-Big 12 challenge


The DePaul Blue Demon men’s basketball team huddles before a game. [Richard Bodee-The DePaulia]

sDePaul’s 2019 non-conference schedule already has its first test of the season, with the Blue Demons taking on Texas Tech at Wintrust Arena in the first ever Big East-Big 12 challenge.

The plan to begin the Big East-Big 12 challenge was officially announced last October, but the matchups were finalized on April 3, with all 10 teams from each conference participating in the challenge. The challenge is slated to last for four years, with games being played in December starting next season.

“This full-participation series assures our schools of premier non-conference competition that will only add to the strength of our two conferences,” Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said in a statement last October. “We look forward to working with the Big 12 to create an exciting new set of rivalries for our players, coaches and supporters.”

DePaul holds a 2-0 lead over Texas Tech in their two previous meetings. But the last time these two sides met was in 2011, with the Blue Demons coming out on top 76-70 in Orlando. That year, however, the Red Raiders finished with an 8-23 record and won only one conference game in one of their worst seasons in program history.

Since their last meeting with DePaul, Texas Tech has completed a 180 and turned their program into one of the most premier college basketball teams in the country. Since head coach Chris Beard took over in 2016, he has accumulated a 76-31 record in three seasons and has led the Red Raiders to two straight tournament appearances, including finishing runners-up in the National Title game against Virginia on April 8.

“The Big 12 looks forward to competing against the BIG EAST in this scheduling series,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “It will provide both conferences with high-quality intersectional matchups on an annual basis that will be of interest to basketball fans across the country.”

With Texas Tech expected to have another strong season next year, they will provide the Blue Demons with a good test early on in the season. DePaul, who had a weak non-conference schedule this season ranking 351th out of 353 schools, will not only be able to test themselves against an elite program,  but their strength of schedule will also be stronger going into next season.

Other notable games include Kansas visiting 2018 National Champions the Villanova Wildcats and Marquette paying a visit to Kansas State. The two conferences combined to send nine teams to the NCAA Tournament this season

Dates and times haven’t been announced for the 10 games yet, but will be closer to the start of next season.