Its official: Cats, Huskies tangle in the Garden

2009 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational Lineup Includes Final Four Participant Connecticut, Former Back-to-Back National Champion Florida

The third annual SEC/BIG EAST Invitational will be held December 9-10 in New York City and Tampa, Fla., ESPN Regional Television (ERT) announced today.

The two-night men's college basketball event begins with a doubleheader Wednesday, Dec. 9, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The matchups feature Georgia vs. St. John's on ESPN2, followed by Kentucky vs. Connecticut on ESPN.

On Thursday, Dec. 10, at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., DePaul will take on Mississippi State on ESPN2, followed by Syracuse vs. Florida on ESPN. Game times for all four matchups will be announced at a later date.

"Once again, this exciting annual matchup will bring together eight great teams for two consecutive nights of exciting college basketball in two great cities," said Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Regional Television. "We're pleased to present another impressive field of SEC and BIG EAST teams to the fans, and look forward to delivering to the student-athletes, coaches and staffs the great experience of being part of this event in New York and Tampa."

St. John's has played Georgia only twice, most recently when the Bulldogs eliminated the Red Storm in the second round of the 1983 NCAA Tournament in Syracuse, N.Y. Connecticut defeated Kentucky in those teams' only meeting in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament in Philadelphia.

DePaul and Mississippi State have faced each other only once, with the Blue Demons winning, 62-60, on Dec. 28, 1988. The Gators and Orange have met three times, with Syracuse winning twice, including an 89-83 victory in the CBE Classic in November 2008 in Kansas City, Mo.

Six of the eight participating teams reached the postseason in 2008-09, with Connecticut, Mississippi State and Syracuse playing in the NCAA Tournament. The Orange made it to the Sweet Sixteen, while the Huskies advanced to the Final Four. Florida and Kentucky played in the NIT, while St. John's played in the College Basketball Invitational.

Teams invited to participate in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are chosen by ESPN in consultation with the conferences and are based on geographic and competitive criteria.

The BIG EAST holds a 5-3 record in the first two years of the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational.
The two conferences have combined to produce four of the last seven NCAA Men's Basketball Champions (Florida - 2007 and 2006; Connecticut - 2004; Syracuse - 2003) and seven of the last 14 national champions (Connecticut - 1999; Kentucky - 1998 and 1996).

Tickets for the 2009 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are expected to go on sale in early summer. For more information, visit the official Web site:

ESPN Regional Television/Event Ownership
The nation's largest syndicator of collegiate sports programming, ESPN Regional Television (ERT) annually produces more than 1,000 telecasts of sporting events. Programming includes football, basketball, NCAA events, golf and NHRA events accounting for more than 2,200 live and/or original hours of programming. In addition to event ownership, ERT is the production headquarters for ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network; syndication rights-holder and producer of national, regional and local shows for college conferences (e.g. - SEC, BIG EAST, Big 12, Mid-American, Sun Belt, WAC).

ESPN Regional Television markets and/or owns several sporting events, including collegiate football events: the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas); New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.); Las Vegas Bowl; Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl (Honolulu); St. Petersburg Bowl; the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney (Orlando, Fla.) ; and The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards; collegiate basketball events: the 76 Classic (Anaheim, Calif.); Charleston Classic (S.C.); Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Old Spice Classic (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); O'Reilly Auto Parts All-College Classic (Oklahoma City); SEC/BIG EAST Invitational; and the ESPNU BracketBusters; as well as the ESPN National Golf Challenge presented by Callaway. For more information, visit