3-point shot: Put priority on natural rivalries

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
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1. Syracuse has done an exceptional job of handling its departure from the Big East as to not alienate any of the former rivals. The Orange have scheduled Villanova and St. John’s for next season and likely will get a deal done with Georgetown for either 2014 or 2015. Colorado handled its exit from the Big 12 in a similar fashion and plays former rivals Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor this season. It’s time for Kansas and Missouri to look at doing something similar. The same is true for Pitt and West Virginia, as well as Texas and Texas A&M. Kansas, with the best non-conference schedule in the country, doesn’t need Mizzou. But it would still create an incredible atmosphere at a neutral site, if that’s the best the two sides can do (maybe alternate between Kansas City and St. Louis). Mizzou needs the game more than Kansas, based on the weaker bottom half of the SEC for power-rating points. Pitt’s schedule is soft and could use another power-five school like West Virginia. Playing the game, even at the home of the Penguins, should be a start. Texas has no issue getting games. Meanwhile, the Aggies either can’t or choose not to find quality in their non-conference scheduling. Getting Texas on the slate at least would create some interest in their non-conference scheduling. Egos need to be checked. In an era where college basketball needs to generate non-conference interest, playing these games that fans actually care about should be a priority over another guarantee game against a school with an unfamiliar name.

2. Tyler Roberson isn’t listed on the Syracuse website roster yet, but he has been cleared to play. And that’s great news for Syracuse and the attempt to unseat ACC favorite Duke in the first year of being in the league. "He’s obviously a good player," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim of the 6-7 forward from Union, N.J. "He gives us some depth at forward with C.J. [Fair] and Jerami [Grant]. It gives us three athletic, quick forwards. We’re excited about that." Boeheim said the news Roberson is eligible has bigger ramifications. "Long-range, that’s the key," said Boeheim of a replacement for Fair once he’s done with his eligibility in the spring of 2014. "Next year, he’ll be really, really good by then. He’s a really good player. He’s pretty quick."

3. Utah State has a rarity of hosting two schools from power conferences in USC (Pac-12) and Mississippi State (SEC) in Logan this season -- the first for the Aggies in the Mountain West. The series with the Bulldogs is a two-for-one that coach Stew Morrill wasn’t thrilled with but will do. The Aggies went out to Starkville in 2012 (lost by two), get the Bulldogs in Logan this season after the series took a year off under new coach Rick Ray and will go back next season. The USC game was as a result of the Aggies going to USC -- Sept. 21 -- in football. "My AD (Scott Barnes) asked that if we do that could we get a home and home in basketball," said Morrill. The series was supposed to start last season in Logan but former USC coach Kevin O'Neill said he needed to put it off a year but then would play the opener this season. O’Neill then got fired. "I told him there was a hefty buyout to move it back a year and that the buyout doubled," said Morrill. "Andy (Enfield) got the job, and there was a $150,000 buyout on this game." Utah State opens up with USC at home Nov. 8 and will return the game next season. "People have no idea how hard it is to get games," said Morrill. Utah State has kept the BYU series in Salt Lake City on a neutral court. Utah has put off playing Utah State and Morrill said he would only play the Utes in a home-and-home situation.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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