1. The long national nightmare of Syracuse deciding if it would actually honor the SEC-Big East Challenge contract and play at Arkansas Nov. 30 is now over. The Orange announced they will play the game. But Syracuse also said it will get some help from the Big East in nonconference scheduling. What does that mean? Syracuse is playing San Diego State on a battleship in San Diego and will play Temple in New York. The rest of the slate hasn’t been announced yet. The Big East says it can aid SU in a number of ways: help get a good TV slot for a nonconference game; move a conference game to make room for a nonconference game or lean on other leagues to free up a date or team.
2. Butler has a legit shot to win the A-10 in its first season in the conference, but the Bulldogs received a difficult schedule under the one-year 16-team, 16-game slate. Butler will host other contenders Saint Louis, Temple and Xavier and sneaky St. Bonaventure. But the road schedule is full of obstacles with contenders VCU, SLU, Saint Joseph’s and UMass as well as La Salle. Going to always difficult Dayton is another rough stop. But this Butler team is used to playing with the target in the Horizon League. That won’t change in the A-10. Conversely, fellow new team and contender VCU gets Butler, Dayton, La Salle, UMass and Saint Joe’s at home. VCU goes to SLU, Temple, Xavier and St. Bonaventure for its toughest games.
3. If you think unbalanced conference scheduling is easy then you should sit in on a meeting this week in Atlanta. The FBS basketball and football conference schedulers are meeting this week to discuss all of their issues, and there are many. The schedulers also discuss instant replay, game operations, TV production, NCAA issues, tournament formats and tickets. Good to see these conference officials actually sharing ideas and working together to make smoother process.