Ah, rivalries. The best part of college basketball's regular season.
Whether it's Duke-Carolina, Kentucky-Louisville or any of the more regional – and perhaps even more heated – matchups like Kansas-Missouri, Indiana-Purdue, Arizona-UCLA or Philly's Big Five provide fodder for hoops fans to argue about and cheer for.
Wednesday showcased one of my favorites, Cincinnati-Xavier.
The crosstown throwdown features two schools from the same city, located less than 4 miles apart. It's always physical, always close and rarely gets enough national attention. Then again, without Bob Huggins, it doesn't have that touchstone figure.
Also, the Musketeers own this rivalry, winning eight of the last 11 games. Still, it's worth watching.
Wednesday's game was no exception. It had the technical fouls, rough-up players and a frenzied finish. Xavier's Derrick Brown took charge late to offset his team's poor shooting night and hand the Bearcats a 64-59 loss.
Yet I wonder if, without a larger-than-life figure like Huggins to ensure it garners attention every season, the Cincy rivalry will fade while others come to the forefront.
When we did this rivalries special feature a few years ago, it was made with Duke-Carolina in mind, but others like Cincy-Xavier and Kansas-Missouri were crucial. But in that time, Cincy and Missouri have faded as relevant basketball powers, while Xavier has had up-and-down seasons. (Mizzou has improved under second-year coach Mike Anderson, but isn't what it used to be under Norm Stewart.)
And other rivalries have emerged. Our hoops expert, Ken Davis, wrote about how the USC-UCLA rivalry has come to the forefront thanks to the school's impact freshmen and also mentioning the new feuds between schools like Tennessee and Memphis, Indiana and Illinois and Texas and Texas A&M. Heck, SI led its college basketball preview by rating the heat of all the new rivalries popping up (Indiana and Illinois hottest among them. Tempers flare when freshmen like Eric Gordon are in play.)
I guess I wonder if the old rivalries, like Xavier-Cincinnati, Kansas-Missouri or even Georgetown-Syracuse will ever be as compelling as they once were. After all, teams have to stay prominent and have reasons to stay rivals as the years wear on, right? Can there be a rivalry when one school isn't competitive?