1. The Big East and SEC are expected to finalize the pairings for their challenge sometime in the next two weeks. Any speculation (as I did last week) on the pairings is now moot as the conferences try to figure out arena openings and home/road setup. The Big East coaches were told that the event will happen. Politicking has begun for some. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin wants a marquee home game. The ACC-Big Ten Challenge has matched teams that are supposed to finish in similar positions; this event hasn’t been handled like that overall. Cincinnati played Georgia last season despite the Bearcats being an upper-division Big East team and Georgia picked for the lower level of the SEC. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t rank our teams, too," Cronin said. “I’m asking the league to get us a like opponent. If we’re being picked high then we want the same thing (from the SEC)."
2. Cronin is attempting to upgrade his schedule and has secured a top-25 home-and-home series, which isn’t easy in this era of schools looking for more neutral-site non-conference games. Cronin and New Mexico coach Steve Alford said they will play a home-and-home series next season, to start in Cincinnati. The Bearcats will visit the Pit the following season.
3. Murray State coach Steve Prohm said he has had discussions with Virginia Commonwealth about a home-and-home series but nothing is finalized. The Rams are searching for multiple games after losing Richmond and George Washington from the schedule now that they’re all in the Atlantic 10. VCU also needs two more games, since the A-10 plays 16 games and the CAA played 18. VCU coach Shaka Smart said many possibilities remain, but one certainty is that the Rams will continue the rivalry with Old Dominion, which will be off to Conference USA in 2013. Smart said the home-and-home series will start at ODU in 2012-13.