It's probably not what ESPN envisioned, but a good ol' fashioned Big Ten game is going to break out at the SEC/Big East Challenge.
When Tennessee (4-1) meets Georgetown today (TV: ESPN, 6:30 p.m.) at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., possessions will be valued, rebounds will be hard to come by and blood might be spilled.
"We expect physical," said Vols coach Cuonzo Martin, long familiar with the brute warfare of Big Ten basketball from a playing and coaching career at Purdue.
Asked on Wednesday if today's game will take the shape of those grind-out games of his Big Ten days, Martin smiled.
"Exactly like that," he said. "The tougher team will win."
Led by eighth-year coach John Thompson III, Georgetown runs the Princeton-style offense that relies on back-door cuts, open jumpers, post-ups and controlling the clock.
Through the early goings of the season, the Hoyas (4-1) are one of the nation's top defensive rebounding teams and shoot 50.4 percent from the field.
They're big. They're athletic. They're ranked 20th in the country.
"I don't think I've ever seen a Princeton-style team with four starters that are 6-8 or taller," Martin said. "They can pass, shoot, dribble the ball and make plays."
The playmaking begins with sophomore forward Otto Porter. Flying under the radar last year beneath senior teammates Jason
Clark, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims, Porter averaged 9.7 points and team-best 6.8 rebounds per game.
Now a Big East player-of-the-year candidate in 2012-13, Porter averages 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. He posted 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and five blocks in a victory against then-11th-ranked UCLA and 15 points, five rebounds and four assists in a narrow overtime loss to No. 1 Indiana.
Porter was slowed with a mild concussion for Georgetown's opening two games, but is back to 100 percent.
Martin described Porter as an "inside-outside facilitator," and added, "You've really got to be locked in on him and then keep him off the glass when that shot goes up."
Tennessee sophomore forward Josh Richardson will be assigned Porter to open the game.
Georgetown's lone starter under 6-foot-8 is junior guard Markel Starks, the Hoyas' leading scorer at 14.0 points per game.
Starks is joined by rangy athletes Greg Whittington, Mikael Hopkins and Nate Lubick, among others. Matchup problems might arise for Tennessee, meaning defense will be at a premium.
"They do a lot of back-door cutting and have a lot of speed and athleticism," said UT senior Kenny Hall, who continues to be the man the middle for the Vols in the continued absence of injured forward Jeronne Maymon (knee). "We've got to stay on our toes, be aware, not get back-doored and play honest defense."
Against Oakland on Monday, UT put forth its best defensive effort through five games. The Vols allowed only five made baskets in the first half, held Oakland to 28.6 percent shooting for the game and won going away, 77-50.
Martin called it, "Probably one of our better efforts since I've been here from top to bottom."
No one is expecting a shootout tonight. The Vols rank 262nd in the NCAA in possessions per 40 minutes at 65.4. The Hoyas rank 197th with 67.6 per game.
Tennessee gets to the free-throw line more often, while Georgetown is a better 3-point shooting team.
Nothing will come easy.
A distinct edge for the Hoyas is the 20,600-seat Verizon Center.
Georgetown posted a 15-1 record in the building a year ago.
"For our guys to play against a team of that caliber in that atmosphere — it's a good gauge," Martin said.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn