Tuesday, January 29, 2013
3-point shot: Pac-12 should challenge MWC
By Andy Katz
1. The Big East-SEC Challenge wasn't going to continue next season with the changing membership of the Big East. That's why the SEC had long been in negotiations with the Big 12 for a new challenge, and that challenge will begin in 2013-14. The SEC and Big 12 can coordinate a challenge for the next two seasons because the membership will be unchanged. Overall, the idea of challenges is a good one to drum up support for the conferences and create made-for-TV matchups in late November and December. Forcing these schools to play true home-and-home series helps the sport as well as the power-ratings for the nonconference schedules. The Big Ten-ACC Challenge has been the standard. If there is going to be a new one then I would love to see the Pac-12 look to look east and do one with the Mountain West. The Pac-12 actually would be the conference that would benefit, since lately MWC teams overall have had stronger profiles than Pac-12 schools. Pac-12 and MWC schools play each other (see Arizona's and UCLA's schedules) so making the official commitment and creating the competition shouldn't be an issue.
2. This is the biggest week of Andy Kennedy's career at Ole Miss. If the Rebels sweep Kentucky and Florida then they become the SEC favorite and a top 10 team. A split is fine, too, and should put the Rebels on track to being an NCAA tournament team. But get swept and suddenly the reservations about the Rebels are enhanced. Kennedy has had a hard time with luck during his time at Ole Miss. He finally has the team to be a real challenger. The question will be can the Rebels finally embrace the moment and excel?
3. Missouri coach Frank Haith said Laurence Bowers had a strong practice Monday and should be ready to play Wednesday against LSU after missing the past five games with an MCL sprain. Haith had no reason to push Bowers back early. The Tigers will only reach their March potential if Bowers is healthy, and losing a few games while he was out will not derail that goal. They need Bowers or else they have no shot to extend their season deeper into March.