Mar 7, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
On Saturday afternoon, the final installment of Syracuse and Georgetown’s Big East rivalry will come to a fitting close: final day of the regular season played in front of a packed house on ESPN’s Gameday with a conference title on the line.
This isn’t the first great rivalry to get crushed during the Expansionocalypse Paper Chase. West Virginia and Pitt won’t be having anymore Backyard Brawls. Kansas and Missouri have seen their Border War come to an unfortunate truce. Even football has seen one of their longest-standing rivalries fade into darkness, which is why you won’t ever see Johnny Football running roughshod in Austin.
But that doesn’t mean all the great rivalries are dead. Duke and North Carolina play on Saturday as well, and I’m not sure that rivalry can compare with the bitterness that exists between Kentucky and Louisville. The ferocity of the Crosstown Shootout between Cincinnati and Xavier was headline news when they exchanged punches last season. And now that Michigan is good again, the rivalry between the Wolverines and Tom Izzo’s Spartans is thriving.
Here are five more rivalries (plus five extra, since we love ya!) that are must-see TV:
The Sunflower Showdown: Now that Missouri is in the SEC and Kansas State is good at basketball, we must all hope that the attention of the Jayhawk fan base gets turned onto the Wildcats. There’s nothing better than a fierce, in-state rivalry between two powerhouse programs — they are currently tied for the Big 12 lead — that happen to reside in the same conference, and that’s precisely what we have here. Throw in the fact that these are two of the best home court environments in the country and you have everything you need in a rivalry.
The Black & Blue Classic: The battle for the city of Richmond is your classic beef between a large, public school (VCU) and a small, private school (Richmond). This quote from former Ram guard Brandon Rozzell when both teams made the 2011 Sweet 16 sums it up just right:
“We consider ourselves the real Richmond school,” Rozzell said. “We’re in the middle of the city and the heart and soul of everything. They’re more of an elite school, nice campus and all. I like to be where everything is at, not out in the middle of the woods and covered by trees.”
They play twice-a-year as members of the Atlantic 10.
The I-94 Rivalry: Over the last decade or so, in-state rivals Wisconsin and Marquette have seen their feud get ratcheted up a couple of notches. It helps that Bo Ryan and Tom Crean/Buzz Williams have built the two programs into perennial contenders built more-or-less on the same premise: talent development over three or four years, hard work and effort. Recent recruiting battles (looking at you, Vander Blue) have helped fuel the fire as well.
Gonzaga and St. Mary’s: If there was ever a rivalry that needed an awesome nickname*, this is it. The two best programs in the WCC, the Zags and the Gaels have spent the better part of the last decade competing for conference superiority. St. Mary’s finally claimed it last season, but that may be gone now that Gonzaga has climbed to the No. 1 ranking in the country.
Utah, Utah State and BYU: Outside of Indiana and Kentucky, there isn’t a more hoops-mad state in the country that Utah. These are the three biggest programs in the state, and while none of them happen to reside in the same conference anymore — USU will be heading to the Mountain West next season, which Utah and BYU both left in recent years — that doesn’t change the spite that’s felt between the two programs. These rivalries have been played more than 200 times and, with the exception of a couple of recent ugly seasons from the Utes, draw sellout crowds that are rowdy and loud.
Five more worth tuning in for:
- Indiana and Purdue: It feels weird putting the two biggest schools in Indiana on this list, but it probably belongs. The Indiana-Kentucky rivalry is the one that makes headlines. The Indiana-Butler rivalry is the one gaining traction thanks to Brad Stevens. It’s been a while since both schools were relevant at the same time, but when they are, this is fierce.
- The Big 5: I shouldn’t have to explain the Big 5, but I will. St. Joe’s, Villanova, Penn, La Salle and Temple — five schools located in Philly — play a round-robin every year. The folks in Philly care a lot. Seeing a Holy War (St. Joe’s vs. Villanova) should be on every hoop fan’s bucket list.
- The Battle of the Boulevard: Lipscomb and Belmont. No longer league rivals, but that doesn’t take away from the spirit of this rivalry, which once drew 16,000 people to a tournament game when both were NAIA schools in the early ’90s.
- Rio Grande Rivalry: Featuring New Mexico and New Mexico State, this rivalry is unique in that it’s a non-conference matchup, but the Lobos and the Aggies play twice a year.
- Penn and Princeton: The two most storied programs in the Ivy League. Harvard may headline the conference these days, but even in a down year, this game is intense.
What do you think is the best rivalry in the country that doesn’t get enough attention?
*(Now accepting applications for nicknames for the Gonzaga-St. Mary’s rivalry. Leave ‘em in the comments. The winner gets endless props from me.)
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Dec 12, 2013, 12:55 AM EST
GAME OF THE NIGHT: North Dakota State 73, Notre Dame 69 Marshal Bjorklund went for 26 points to lead North Dakota State to an upset win over Notre Dame on the Joyce Center on Wednesday night. It’s the second time that the Irish have lost at home this season, and that fact has Raphielle Johnson…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:21 AM EST
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson threw down this nastiness on New Mexico State on Wednesday night. Hollis-Jefferson is starting to emerge as one of the best players on this Arizona team. He’s versatile, he’s aggressive, he plays hard and he defends. He’s an athletic, ego-free baller, which is exactly the kind of piece that championship team have. He’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:12 AM EST
Last season Arizona forward Brandon Ashley was part of a trio of freshmen who arrived in Tucson amidst much fanfare. Joined by Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski, the McDonald’s All-American was expected to hit the ground running in his debut campaign. While that didn’t happen Ashley was a productive member of a team that reached…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:40 PM EST
With the preseason favorites to win the Summit League visiting South Bend, tonight’s game against North Dakota State was no gimme for Notre Dame. And that’s exactly how it played out, as Marshall Bjorklund and his experienced teammates proved to be too much for the Fighting Irish to handle. Bjorklund scored 26 points on 11-for-14…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:45 PM EST
With some of the biggest names in collegiate athletics attending IMG’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York City, many of the major issues on the table were discussed. Among those issues were the possibility of giving scholarship athletes stipend to help cover the full cost of attendance, and how the NCAA members with the most…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:17 PM EST
When he committed to UNLV during the summer, forward Jamal Aytes had the look of a player capable of helping the Runnin’ Rebels account for the loss of reserve Savon Goodman, whose off-court issues resulted in his leaving the program. But that didn’t turn out to be the case, as in seven games Aytes saw…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:05 PM EST
Under first-year head coach Ray Giacoletti the Drake Bulldogs are off to a surprising 6-2 start to the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs maintaining that start became more difficult, as the school announced on Wednesday that senior guard Gary Ricks Jr. will miss the remainder of the season after fracturing a bone in his…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
Who is the best shooter in the country? It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like…
Dec 11, 2013, 3:44 PM EST
Dayton: A loss at Illinois State has taken some of the luster off of the Flyers’ start this season, but don’t overlook what this group has done this year. They won at Georgia Tech, they beat Gonzaga and Cal in Maui, and they took Baylor to the buzzer. George Washington: The Atlantic 10 looks like…
Dec 11, 2013, 2:09 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: New Mexico State at No. 1 Arizona, 9:00 p.m. ET Arizona deserves their No. 1 ranking. They’ve played like the best team in the country all season long. But New Mexico State is good. Let’s start with the obvious: this group is the favorite to win the WAC. Daniel Mullings is…
Dec 11, 2013, 1:04 PM EST
Utah’s non-conference schedule this season has taken plenty of heat. They kicked off their season against something called Evergreen. On Dec. 28th, they play something known as St. Katherine’s. In between those two non-conference bookends, the Utes have 10 games on their schedule. None of them are against high-major opponents. Only one of them is…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:29 PM EST
Marquette will be featured at the Sundance film festival this year, only it won’t be the way you think. Danny Pudi, a Marquette alum that earned fame as an actor on ‘Community’, has teamed up with ESPN’s 30 for 30 guys and written a short film called Untucked. And if you’re a Marquette fan, you…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:43 AM EST
The resurgence that we all expected to see out of the Providence Friars this season looks like it may, once again, have to wait until next season. Kris Dunn, the top point guard in the Class of 2012, will miss the rest of the season to undergo shoulder surgery, according to Kevin McNamara of the…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:20 AM EST
Nevada’s Deonte Burton is one of the most ferocious dunkers in the country, and he proved that again on Tuesday night at Cal’s Haas Pavilion. He beat his man off the dribble where he met David Kravish. And Kravish, who apparently doesn’t read CBT like he should, went up like he was trying to block…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:03 AM EST
Tom Maayan’s career at Seton Hall is over. The Pirate’s sophomore point guard played his final collegiate game on Tuesday night, going scoreless in 13 minutes in a win over NJIT. Maayan will be returning to his native Israel to fulfill his commitment to the Israeli Defense Forces. Maayan spent three months this summer training…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:37 AM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 19 Florida 67, No. 13 Kansas 61 Florida played the first month with many players sidelined for various reason. Chris Walker, the Gators hope, will be another piece they get back soon. On Tuesday night, Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill returned from injuries to team up in the back court. The…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:02 AM EST
Gonzaga had not led since 18:35 left in the first half, but with 4:10 remaining in the game, Kyle Dranginis found the trailing Kevin Pangos, who had struggled to this point, at the top of the key for a wide-open three on the secondary break. The sharpshooter drilled it, giving the Zags a 68-66 lead.…
Dec 10, 2013, 11:49 PM EST
No. 11 Kentucky entered Tuesday night’s matchup with Boise State coming off of a loss to Baylor at the Jerry Dome in Dallas, one in which the Wildcats were crushed on the offensive glass and cut up by the Bears in the pick and roll. It was concerning. What has made John Calipari’s youthful rosters…
Dec 10, 2013, 9:53 PM EST
I wrote this on Saturday after No. 13 Kansas lost to Colorado at the buzzer. The gist of it? Kansas fans should not be too disappointed about the loss, that the more important news was that Andrew Wiggins finally started to play like the Andrew Wiggins we all told you about. I could pretty much…
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