Butler, Xavier to play a non-conference game?

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On Tuesday afternoon, the Atlantic 10 officially announced their 2012-2013 league schedule.

And as was expected, the league kept the schedule at 16 games despite expanding to 16 team with the addition of Butler and VCU for next season. That means that each team will have a “rival” that they play twice while playing seven other league members at home and seven on the road.

The A-10 was far from perfect in the way they put the schedule together — Temple plays Charlotte twice while St. Joe’s gets a home-and-home with Fordham? Umm … is it too late to switch?! — but they did get a couple of things right. For starters, VCU and Richmond will play twice in what should be a terrific rivalry game. The two schools share Richmond, VA, as a hometown and have long had a healthy dislike for each other. They were also league rivals back in the ’90’s when both schools were members of the CAA.

The conference also did well to have Butler and St. Louis — two contenders — and Xavier and Dayton — two teams that have developed a healthy dislike for each other — play twice this season.

What’s even more interesting, however, is that Butler and Xavier will also be playing twice this season.

And one of the matchups will be a “non-conference” game.

You see, back when Butler was still a member of the Horizon League, ESPN struck a deal with the two schools to have them participate in the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon in 2012 and 2013, rotating the location of the game. (This year it will take place in Cincinnati.)

Not a bad consolation prize for losing out on those Big 5 tussles.

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