3-point shot: Scoping SEC/Big 12 pairings

December, 7, 2012
12/07/12
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1. Don’t expect the SEC/Big 12 Challenge to produce matchups that conference realignment has dashed. You won’t see Kansas-Missouri or Texas-Texas A&M, at least for the foreseeable future. You also won't see Kansas-Kentucky, at least in the event's first season. Kansas had some scheduling issues and couldn’t work things out to play Florida, either, on a proposed date. So a more likely opponent for the Jayhawks in the inaugural series may end up being Arkansas -- at home in Lawrence. Kentucky will probably have its Baylor game at Cowboys Stadium folded into the challenge. This practice of pre-existing games counting as part of a challenge happened in the old Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, as well. A Florida-Oklahoma State matchup could happen; if so, that would be one of the more marquee games of 2013. Four of the 14 SEC teams won’t play in the challenge since there are only 10 Big 12 teams.

2. The Colorado-Kansas series, which starts Saturday in Lawrence, was not at all hard to schedule for either school. Kansas wanted a series against a top-50 team and has always maintained a strong relationship with the Buffaloes. Kansas alumni in the western part of the state are actually closer to Colorado than to Lawrence, and have consistently gone to watch the Jayhawks in Boulder. CU coach Tad Boyle is a Kansas alumnus and jumped at the chance to schedule its former Big 12-mate. “I want to test our young guys in a challenging environment,’’ said Boyle. “We are in the midst of playing three of four on the road. I also wanted to challenge our season ticket-holders to pre-sell out the arena next year with Kansas coming back.’’

3. Virginia has no business being 7-2 so far. The Cavs have been injury-riddled, and got another scare when Jontel Evans was thought to be injured again in a Wednesday win over Tennessee. But Tony Bennett consistently maximizes talent -- and he should be applauded for offering up some sanity in a crazy waiver world. The Cavs picked up South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill in the offseason. Associate head coach Ritchie McKay said Gill is arguably one of the best players on the team. But he has to sit out the season because the Cavaliers staff and administration didn’t believe he had a legitimate claim to a waiver to play immediately since he was from Charlotte, which isn’t exactly closer to Charlottesville. In fact, Columbia, S.C., is closer to his hometown. Indeed, the Cavs didn’t bother asking for a waiver. Virginia continues to surprise, beating Wisconsin on the road, taking down Tennessee and probably on the way to an 11-2 start before opening ACC play Jan. 6 against North Carolina.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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