If nothing else, give officials representing the Catholic 7 of the Big East their just due: these guys know when to strike.

Forget tithing; that can come later, when all the dust has settled and TV contracts have been signed. We’re talking timing, baby.

At a juncture when the NFL hits its annual late-season slowdown before the postseason and college sports hold some serious sway with basketball underway and the football bowl season and coaching carousel in play, when better to throw down the attention-grabbing gauntlet?

It was the perfect opportunity to state their “suffering,” their intent for redemption, their willingness to strike out on their own, and, thus, steal a few headlines in the process to prove they still had some pull to potential suitors in the TV industry and partners in the “forming a league” business.

Bravo, Georgetown. Bravo, Marquette. Bravo, Villanova. Bravo, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul, too.

Individually and especially collectively, the soon-to-be-departing hoops-focused members of the careening-off-the-tracks Big East picked the right time to play their hand – at least the initial one.

So successful were they that Butler, rumored to be a primary target of future, if not current, overtures to join forces, couldn’t even get the recognition it deserved for doing something none of the Catholic 7 have of late: posting some measurable form of achievement on the court.

What, the Bulldogs beat top-ranked Indiana … on a game-winning shot by a 5-foot-11 walk-on in overtime? Hmmm, you don’t say …

Sports, if not life in general, has become just that – style over substance, potential over production, possibility over reality. Not all bad, mind you, since the ability to be open to new things, to see what could be down the road, allows us to evolve and grow as a society.

But it would be nice to stop and smell the roses once in a while … without fear of drawing blood.

That being said, at the proverbial semester break right now, let us take a look at some of the more telling game-based news of the 2012-13 college basketball season thus far:

– Well, nothing tops Butler upending the Hoosiers this past weekend. In the former’s backyard of Indianapolis or not, the latter still owns the state, if not the state’s capital city, and figured to handle a good, not great group of Bulldogs. Only Butler never backed off, overcoming big “deficits” in fouls charged and turnovers to prevail 88-86 on Andrew Barlow’s runner in the lane with 2.4 seconds remaining.

– Indiana, Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan have spearheaded the Big Ten’s dominance to national pundits, but none has been the best story in the conference. That honor belongs to Illinois, which currently stands 10th in the country courtesy of a 12-0 start in John Groce’s first season as coach. The quick start includes a few nailbiters, a big win at Gonzaga and a blowout of … Butler. The Illini visit No. 12 Missouri this Saturday. Senior G Brandon Paul has been the Big Ten’s most valuable player thus far.

– No argument on Duke being No. 1 now, but the Blue Devils did benefit from the most ridiculous stat of the season thus far. In their victory over Temple earlier this month at East Rutherford, N.J., they stepped to the line 24 times before the Owls ever attempted a free throw. Temple may want to prep for some similar treatment this Saturday when they head back up I-95 to face No. 3 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden.

– After starting the season a disappointing 4-3, Kentucky has rattled off three straight wins and appears to be right on track to jump back into the national spotlight with its Dec. 29 matchup with in-state rival Louisville, which is ranked fourth in the country. The Wildcats, currently unranked, were third in the preseason. Watch out for preseason No. 13, current unranked UCLA’s similar resurgence as well.