When Kentucky pulled off a huge comeback upset win on the road against West Virginia, it laid to rest the SEC’s drought in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The SEC had never won the challenge previously.
Obviously, this year is a different year for the SEC. The depth of the conference is better than it’s been in a long time, and any SEC team is primed to beat anyone (in-conference or not) on any given night.
That was certainly the case in this year’s challenge, as six SEC teams won their games against what KenPom believed to be the be the best conference in the country going into the day.
Kentucky’s win over No. 7 West Virginia — on the road — was probably the conference’s biggest win of the day. But unranked Alabama also upset No. 12 Oklahoma 80-73, and Arkansas beat Oklahoma State 66-65.
The SEC’s other wins were Vanderbilt over TCU 81-78, No. 22 Tennessee over Iowa State 68-45 and No. 20 Florida over Baylor 81-60.
The conference’s 6-4 win over the Big 12 is another major step forward for SEC basketball. After getting three teams into the Elite Eight last year, the hype was evident. Nearly half the league had a chance to make NCAA Tournament going into the year. And while Missouri has had issues after Michael Porter Jr.’s injury, and Texas A&M has had a down year, no one expected Tennessee and Auburn to be as good as they’ve been.
This is a big up year for the SEC, and winning the Big 12/SEC Challenge is a clear sign of that.