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College basketball scheduling is harder than you think

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Norfolk St v Missouri

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 16: Head coach Frank Haith of the Missouri Tigers looks on against the Norfolk State Spartans during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 16, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

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On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN rolled out a package of three lengthy article that broke down, in detail, just about everything that you will need to know about college basketball and how non-conference schedules get built.

Andy Katz took a look at how non-conference schedules get built at different levels of the game, Myron Medcalf wrote about the death of the home game and Eamonn Brennan put together a list of the top non-conference matchups that need to remain now that realignment has been finalized for the 2012-2013 season.

And while much of what is written is great reading material for hardcore hoops junkies, none of it is really all that revealing. We know that the bigger schools don’t want to play on the road against mid-majors, especially good mid-majors that would hurt their RPI with a loss. We know that the nation’s marquee programs are looking to play more and more games in NBA arenas and NFL stadiums. We know that money, exposure and the number of TV sets they can get on takes priority over things like longstanding rivalries and the nation’s top three teams playing each other. (Insert snide, passive-aggressive remarks aimed at Tom Crean and John Calipari here.)

The most telling quote, however, came from Medcalf’s story:

Missouri coach Frank Haith said he’s talked to Arizona’s Sean Miller about a future matchup between the two schools. Arizona and Missouri could establish an enticing Pac 12-SEC rivalry. But they probably will play those games on neutral sites, Haith said.

Haith understands the concerns of fans who want more good home games during the nonconference season. It’s not, however, that simple to produce them, he said.

“You’re not going to get those teams to come to Missouri or wherever to play,” he said. “You can’t just play all buy games at your place, and you’re not going to get a lot of those teams to do a home-and-home at your place. That’s what the game has gotten to.”

Sean Miller collected as much talent on the Wildcat’s roster as we’ve seen in Tucson since the days of Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson and Jason Gardner. Frank Haith has built Missouri back into a regional power, one that will be competing for SEC titles for at least the next couple of seasons. Both programs would be well served with playing each other, and there is little doubt that fans and TV executives alike would be benefited if the series takes place.

But would anyone be surprised if the games take place in Pheonix and Kansas City instead of Columbia and Tucson?

I sure wouldn’t.

And while it may not be ideal, getting the two teams together in a neutral court setting is better than seeing Arizona play Northern Arizona and Missouri play UMKC at home. (Insert more snide, passive-aggressive remarks aimed at Tom Crean and John Calipari here.)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.