If the world was just, everyone would know about the Big 5. They’d have game dates circled on calendars, watch every one on TV and talk about ‘em the next day.
Alas, the world doesn’t revolve around Philadelphia basketball.
So Temple, Villanova, La Salle, Penn and St. Joe’s have to settle for representing one of college basketball’s best multi-team rivalry. Five schools, all occupying the same city, representing different personas and playing in (mostly) different leagues.
It’s something that should be noted in November, before anyone starts playing each other, but Grantland did a fun feature on the Big 5 Monday. And any attention given to the Big 5 is good.
Although all five teams harbor a healthy dislike for each other, these are largely bloodless rivalries. Unlike Duke and Carolina, or Alabama and Auburn, Big 5 fans traditionally have not woken up every morning hating any one team in particular. (St. Joe’s fans would no doubt cite Villanova as their biggest rival, but this feeling is largely unrequited, as Nova fans are more likely to rattle off four or five Big East schools as their chief enemies before getting to the Hawks.) Rather, the five are more like a family; Penn of the Ivy League is the smart older brother, St. Joseph’s the loud and obnoxious younger sister, and La Salle the slightly senile grandfather prattling on about how great things were back in the day. (Drexel is the unloved stepchild from a previous marriage, or perhaps the family pet. Sorry, Drexel.) Temple and Villanova are mom and dad — the twin pillars of the city’s college hoops establishment. But all five schools have had moments in the sun.
The only thing I never got in any of this? Why nobody likes Drexel. What did the Dragons ever do to deserve that?
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