Alabama and Auburn to Face Off Against Blue Bloods in SEC/ACC Challenge

KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 28: Auburn Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl coaches during the college basketball game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Auburn Tigers on February 28, 2024, at Food City Center in Knoxville, TN. (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire)

College basketball season is still over five months away, but fans of the SEC and the ACC got something look forward to on Wednesday as ESPN released the matchups for the annual SEC/ACC Challenge.

Both Alabama and Auburn will take the road to face off against two titans of the sport in the challenge’s marquee games.

Alabama will get another shot at the team they defeated in the Sweet Sixteen last season, taking on the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.

The Crimson Tide are 6-7 against UNC all-time, but currently sport a two-game winning streak in the series. The Tar Heels cruised to a 2019 victory over the Tide in the Bahamas, but Alabama got its revenge in 2022, defeating the then No. 1-ranked Tar Heels in a quadruple-overtime thriller.

Auburn, meanwhile, will get a chance to play in what is perhaps the most notorious road environment in the sport, traveling to Durham to face the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Tigers have played Duke four times in history, losing each game. The teams’ only matchup of the 21st century came in Maui in 2018, when No. 8 Auburn dropped a heartbreaker to the top-ranked, Zion Williamson-led Blue Devils.

Both SEC/ACC Challenge games will be played on December 4, 2024.

“It’s hard to put in perspective exactly what this opportunity means for our Auburn Basketball program,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “To be selected by ESPN and our conference, to compete against one of the greatest programs in the history of college basketball, is tremendous recognition for where our program is at right now. It’s also a tremendous responsibility.”

Some of the challenge’s other prominent matchups include Arkansas playing in Miami against the Hurricanes, Syracuse heading to Knoxville to take on Tennessee, and Virginia playing in Gainesville against Florida.

In last season’s edition of the event, Alabama lost to Clemson in Tuscaloosa and Auburn defeated Virginia Tech in Auburn.