Mar 7, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
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.
May 24, 2013, 8:55 PM EDT
With Javon McCrea and Cameron Downing entering their senior campaign at Buffalo, first-year head coach Bobby Hurley can use some additional front court depth that will benefit the Bulls in 2014. Hurley’s numbers received a boost on Friday afternoon, as it was reported by Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com that former Marshall forward Jamir Hanner has…
May 24, 2013, 7:30 PM EDT
According to the Idaho Statesman, Boise State freshman forward Vukasin Vujovic has decided to leave the program. In his one season at Boise State, the native of Serbia saw action in just nine of the Broncos’ 32 games. In those nine games the 6-9 Vujovic averaged just 4.0 minutes and 1.4 points per game. Vujovic’s…
May 24, 2013, 6:00 PM EDT
When it was announced just over a month ago that Central Connecticut State leading scorer Kyle Vinales would look to transfer, the biggest factor in his decision was a desire to reach postseason play. Vinales, who averaged nearly 22 points per game as a sophomore, at one point tweeted his decision to transfer to Toledo only…
May 24, 2013, 4:38 PM EDT
With the recent news that former Purdue forward Sandi Marcius would transfer to DePaul, it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped in this scenario. That would be Donnavan Kirk looking to finish his collegiate career at another institution. On Friday the school announced that it has granted Kirk permission to…
May 24, 2013, 2:37 PM EDT
Last November the organizers of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced its completed eight-team field, with programs such as Florida State, Georgetown and Michigan being confirmed participants. Also among the eight teams: Auburn. But apparently something changed with the Tigers’ schedule, leading to a report from Andy Katz of ESPN.com that Northeastern would be the eighth…
May 24, 2013, 1:40 PM EDT
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May 24, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT
In an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” this morning, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski discusses topics such as his decision to return as head coach of the US men’s national team for the 2016 Summer Olympics and his future at Duke. Also of note were Krzyzewski’s comments on incoming freshman Jabari Parker, stating that…
May 24, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
Earlier this week an advertisement for Calhoun’s BBQ done by former Tennessee basketball player Steven Pearl hit the airwaves, and it included a reference to current Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft. But that reference has led to the compliance department at Ohio State getting involved, looking to make sure it’s clear that there was…
May 24, 2013, 10:20 AM EDT
In the aftermath of Sheldon Jeter’s decision to transfer from Vanderbilt it was reported that Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings was blocking Pittsburgh as a possible destination. Some assumed that tampering was the reason for the move, but according to a report by Andy Katz of ESPN.com that may not be the case. Regardless of…
May 24, 2013, 8:52 AM EDT
With the graduation of leading scorers Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, there was a chance that 6-6 forward Myke Henry would see more opportunities to produce for Illinois in 2013-14. However it seems as if the Chicago native won’t be around to realize such possibilities, as it was reported by the Champaign News-Gazette that Henry…
May 23, 2013, 10:50 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
The eight-team field for the 2013 Cancun Challenge is finally set, with 2013 NCAA tournament participants Saint Louis and Wisconsin headlining the field. The event will feature two four-team fields, with the Billikens and Badgers being joined by Old Dominion and West Virginia in the Riviera Division. The Mayan Division bracket consists of Bowling Green,…
May 23, 2013, 6:20 PM EDT
With four departures (Butler, Charlotte, Temple and Xavier) and one arrival (George Mason), the Atlantic 10 Conference will have 13 members for the 2013-14 academic year with Davidson joining in 2014. Those changes have brought about another for the conference: beginning next season, all members will play in the Atlantic 10 tournament at the Barclays…
May 23, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
While much of this past season was spent lamenting the changing of the Big East, another result of conference realignment was the improvement of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s basketball product. Sure Duke and North Carolina managed to carry their share of the load in the years following the move from nine to 12 schools, but…
May 23, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official on Thursday afternoon: he’ll be coaching Team USA basketball through at least the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. That’s been known for almost a week now. The interesting bit of news that came out of his press conference on Thursday afternoon had nothing to do with…
May 23, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
I’m not sure there is a coach in the country that is better at developing players in his program than Bill Self at Kansas. Over the years, the best players that have come through Lawrence during his tenure have been moderately recruited — i.e. somewhere around the top 40 or top 50 of most lists…
May 23, 2013, 1:05 PM EDT
Cody Larson’s basketball career never got off the ground in Florida. After redshirting as a freshman, Larson was involved in a bizarre incident along with a team manager and Erik Murphy where he tried to break into a car after sneaking into a bar after closing time to inquire about a lost wallet. After being…
May 23, 2013, 12:02 PM EDT
It’s late May, it’s Thursday, and you don’t want to be paying attention at work when it’s nice out. So take 10 minutes and watch some dunks.
May 23, 2013, 11:13 AM EDT
Vanderbilt has made a change to their coaching staff, as Kevin Stallings went out and plucked Yanni Hufnagel off of Tommy Amaker’s staff at Harvard. “I couldn’t be more excited to join Coach Stallings and the rest of his outstanding staff here at Vanderbilt,” said Hufnagel. “Coach Stallings is not only recognized as one of…
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