There’s a series of rivalries that flared recently like Duke-Maryland, Florida-Kentucky and UCLA-Arizona.
And geography and burning desire makes up for the up-and-down fortunes of these schools’ rivalries: Iowa-Iowa State, Michigan-Michigan State, Stanford-California, Penn-Princeton and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State.
Philadelphia’s Big 5 — first formed in 1954 — is a rivalry unto itself and one of the most entertaining. It has renewed its round-robin series that was halted for several years because of conference affiliations and NCAA rules that caused scheduling gridlock, so recognition should be given to Villanova, Temple, St. Joseph’s, Penn and LaSalle.
Fans and players don’t really hate each other, but the level of play in their games has thrusted this to the forefront. Last year’s Big East title game, which the Huskies won, 61-58 after the Panthers took the regular-season title, is a great example.
With star Emeka Okafor hobbled by back spasms, guard Ben Gordon hit the game-winner and set the Big East Tournament scoring record in the process. Oh yeah, it was the third straight time they’d played for the title. It was the fourth straight final for the Panthers and the eighth in 10 years for Connecticut.
Pitt joined Connecticut (1994-96) as the only team to win or share a Big East regular-season title in three straight seasons. The Big East played in divisions from 1995-98 and 2001-03 and thus didn’t have a single champion those seasons.
Add in this season's 76-66 win by Pittsburgh, which featured 29 points from Chevon Troutman and a 17-point comeback by the Panthers, and you've got a rivalry that's on the way up.
CBT: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official that he'll be coaching Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and he'll also be with Duke at least that long, too.
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