An article out of the Journal and Courier yesterday announced that the Matt Painter project of protecting basketball rivalries was gaining steam. The Lafayette based newspaper was extremely excited because it means Purdue and Indiana will be a thing twice a year.
I love tradition, so it was good news, but the moment turned bittersweet. I realized that Ohio State has no true basketball rival in the Big Ten. Sure, I want the Buckeyes to beat the crap out of the Wolverines, but that’s true with everything, all the time. Basketball is an extension of that hatred, it hasn’t added to it, at least not since the early 90s. I don’t go into each basketball season frothing at the mouth with the dates of the Michigan games circled.
With further thought, there really aren’t any huge basketball rivalries in the Big Ten. At least not to me. The article itself listed three rivalries that were being focused on. The aforementioned Purdue/Indiana, Michigan/Michigan State, and Illinois/Northwestern.
That rings mostly false for me. I get Purdue and Indiana. Michigan and Michigan State is similar to the OSU and Michigan thing. They already hate each other, and I don’t think back and relish huge games between the two teams where everything was on the line. Certainly not year in and year out. I know Illinois has slipped, and Northwestern made the tournament this year, and both are in the same state, but is that really a rivalry?
According to our sister site on the SB nation, in 2013, the all-time head to head record was 129-37. That’s not a rivalry, that’s a perpetual ass kicking.
The thing is, the Big Ten is a solid basketball conference. It’s not uncommon for them to have player of the year candidates, and make the final 4. There have even been a few championships. The first NCAA tournament included a Big Ten team, and Indiana is a blue blood of college basketball, though it’s slipped the last few decades. It seems to me on the surface that there should be better rivalries.
I really haven’t given it much thought before tonight, so I don’t understand this lack of traditional rivalries.
Looking at the Buckeyes as the example, a big reason might be the lack of consistency. In my sports watching lifetime, I have seen the Buckeyes make it to 3 final fours, 2 other elite 8s and a total of 10 sweet 16s. There was also a lot of missed tournaments in between. I am sure a big reason for the lack of rivals is the that there isn’t one team they face each season that is make or break.
One last point, if Larry Bird stays at Indiana, and Magic stays at MSU all 4 years, how crazy might the MSU/Indiana rivalry be?
Am I alone in thinking I am rival deprived in basketball, or are there other Big Ten fan bases thinking the same? Am I living under a rock and don’t realize just how many great rivalries there are in the Big Ten? You tell me.