The Pac-10 and Big 12 released the pairings for their fourth annual head-to-head hardwood series earlier this week, but it appears the two conferences have yet to learn from the previous three year's mistakes.
Again the dates of the games are spread over the course of nearly a month instead of packed into a couple days or even a week. And again the matchups are return games from the previous year, meaning that the conferences didn't have the flexibility to create the marquee games that fans wanted to see.
The Pac-10 and Big 12 started this event in 2007 to emulate the success of the annual ACC-Big Ten challenge, but spacing the games so far apart has handicapped its hopes of creating the same early-season buzz. Instead of a two-day made-for-TV event in which supporters of both leagues can get excited about the battle for bragging rights, it's a sporadic four-week mess that only the hardcore fans even know exists.
Also not helping the event's popularity is the Pac-10 and Big 12's insistence that the same teams play each other in back-to-back years to make it easier to give each school one home game and one road game. That system forced organizers to make next season's matchups two years in advance, which is why Pac-10 co-favorites Washington and Arizona will face middle-of-the-pack Texas A&M and potentially dreadful Oklahoma next season instead of one of the Big 12's five likely contenders.
In fairness to the two conferences, they did get a few matchups right, whether by good predictions or good fortune. Arizona State at Baylor should be a solid game, Kansas State at Washington State has potential if the Cougars improve and at least UCLA at Kansas has pedigree even if the rebuilding Bruins won't be much of an upset threat in Lawrence.
And even though Missouri may run Oregon out of Mac Court in December, the game does have a built-in storyline with Tigers coach Mike Anderson facing the program he spurned the previous spring.
Matchups like these will be fun and worth keeping an eye on. Still, it's a shame this event isn't what it could be.