Jamie Dixon coached in the Big East for a decade. He’s fired up for new ‘alliance’

TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon received good news on Wednesday. The Big 12 and Big East are starting a men’s basketball challenge beginning next season and lasting at least four years.

Dixon coached in the Big East for a decade at Pittsburgh (2003-04 through 2012-13) before the school moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“There is a personal factor in there, there is no question,” Dixon said at the Big 12 men’s basketball media day on Wednesday. “I think it’s tremendous.

“I joke about it because I mentioned -- I thought I mentioned that a year ago, two years ago, really, when I first heard the talks, and I kind of thought it fell on deaf ears, but it seems like it’s gotten – it’s going to be a great thing for us.”

The Big 12 and Big East have a few set matchups for next season, including Kansas and Villanova, Texas and Providence, Oklahoma and Creighton, and K-State and Marquette.

The other six games will be scheduled at a later date. Dixon’s biggest rivals when he was at Pitt were Villanova and Georgetown, although he doesn’t have a strong preference on which school TCU will face next season.

“Marquette beat us one time and all of a sudden they wanted us to be rivals,” said Dixon, who won two Big East regular-season titles (2004 and 2011) and one conference tournament championship (2008).

“Everyone wants to be a rival when you’re at the top of the league. We had so many rivals at Pittsburgh it was never ending.”

Even a few of the Big East teams today that weren’t in the conference during Dixon’s time have history. Pitt beat Xavier in a Sweet 16 matchup in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, and then lost that same matchup in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

In the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Pitt lost 71-70 to Butler in the second round.

“There is history there,” Dixon said. “Personally, it’s going to be even more exciting.”

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said this alliance will be similar to the current Big 12/ SEC challenge. The series doesn’t have an official name yet, but the hope is it becomes an “event” over a short period similar to the Big 12/ SEC challenge. For now, the games are expected to be played in December.

“It’s a great thing, a great opportunity for us,” Dixon said.

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