- Andy Katz, ESPN.com Senior Writer
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1. Credit Butler and Xavier for being willing to play twice in a season after Butler abruptly joined the A-10 a year early. The two teams were already scheduled to play in a nonconference game at Xavier as part of the Tip-Off Marathon. Xavier also will play at Butler in a conference game. Butler and Xavier easily could have punted on the previously scheduled nonconference game. The first game will give Xavier an advance look at Butler's heralded transfer Rotnei Clarke, who makes his national debut against the Musketeers.
2. Kentucky probably should try to set up its schedule so its annual game with Louisville and the SEC-Big East Challenge game are not on the road in the same season. That’s why Baylor is the only significant home game on the Kentucky schedule. But this isn’t an oddity for an elite team. Kentucky coach John Calipari has modeled the way in which he schedules nonconference games from Duke. Calipari looks for marquee nonconference games on a neutral court, preferably now in a dome, and will also participate in an elite tournament. But look at Duke’s home nonconference schedule from last season: Belmont, Presbyterian, Davidson, Colorado State, UNC Greensboro, Western Michigan, Penn and St. John’s. The schedule ended up having three NCAA teams in Belmont, Davidson and CSU, but there was only one power six school in St. John’s. This is the new norm since it’s extremely difficult to get high-level nonconference home games if it’s not part of a challenge.
3. Baylor coach Scott Drew isn’t ducking teams in putting together his schedule. The Bears play at Gonzaga in a return game from two years ago, go to Kentucky, didn’t hesitate to bring in Lehigh, which has one of the top guards in the country in C.J. McCollum and beat Duke in March. Baylor has return games against BYU and Northwestern and plays in the Charleston Classic in a field that includes Murray State. “Last year we had the toughest strength of schedule on Jan. 18, this year could be tougher,’’ Drew said. Baylor needs one more game to schedule, too.
1. Credit Butler and Xavier for being willing to play twice in a season after Butler abruptly joined the A-10 a year early. The two teams were already scheduled to play in a nonconference game at Xavier as part of the Tip-Off Marathon.