It looks like we can cross Maryland and Georgetown off the list of obvious local rivals that are too dumb and stubborn to play each other.
In each of the last two seasons, the Terps and the Hoyas have produced two terrific, thoroughly entertaining basketball games early on in the non-conference season when college basketball is desperately trying to find a way into the conversation. In 2015, then-No. 3 Maryland beat the Hoyas 75-71 in College Park. The return game came last season, when the Hoyas somehow blew a nine-point lead in the final minutes in a loss at the Verizon Center.
But now that the Gavitt Games is no longer forcing the two biggest basketball brands in the nation’s capital to play each other, don’t expect it to happen again anytime soon.
When asked if scheduling Maryland was a priority and a task he had thought about, Ewing flashed a wide grin and asked the room: “Who did he say?”
“I’m not thinking about Maryland. I’m not sure if or when we will schedule Maryland. My focus is on getting us back strong,” Ewing said.
And so it goes.
It has become all too common in college basketball for some of the most obvious and heated rivalries in the sport to never get played, and it sucks. Kansas is still too bitter about Missouri leaving for the SEC to schedule the Tigers, but don’t worry, Jayhawks fans, you still get those games against Washington, Stanford, Arizona State and Nebraska this year!
Duke and Maryland, which was almost as intense as Duke-North Carolina for a stretch of time in the late-90s and early-to-mid-00s, won’t ever get played for that same reason. If that matchup gets scheduled before Mike Krzyzewski retires I’ll be shocked.
Texas played Texas A&M during the 2015-16 season, but they needed the Battle 4 Atlantis to schedule it as an opening round matchup to make it happen. Ohio State has not played a non-conference game against Cincinnati since 2006, Dayton since 1988 and Xavier since 1935. Dayton and Xavier have not scheduled each other since Xavier left the Atlantic 10.
Pitt and West Virginia are only now reigniting the Backyard Brawl, which would be great if the Panthers weren’t an epic disaster at this point. Credit should be given to Syracuse, who has scheduled UConn, Georgetown, Villanova and St. John’s since they’ve left the Big East, but they aren’t going to be able to play everyone of those teams every year. Gonzaga and Washington went a decade between games.
Conferences can’t even get this stuff right. The idea that Indiana and Purdue will only play one Big Ten game against each other this season is pathetic, although the fact that Indiana is going to have themselves a rebuilding year probably takes away some of the angst.
That list is both too long and not complete.
And frankly, I’m not even sure that playing these rivalry games would be enough to make all that big of a difference in how much attention is paid to college basketball in November and December. Unless college hoops can find a way to make football go away or the NBA an inferior product — neither of those things are going to happen — they’re always going to be third fiddle.
But I do know this: There would be a whole lot more interest from each team’s fanbase if they played these rivalry games. What do you think Duke fans want to see more: A game against Maryland or the Blue Devils playing in the PK80 Invitational, seven buy games and a trip to St. John’s?
How much interest do you think could be generated nationally by promoting a game built around the craziest comeback in college basketball history?
How awesome would it be if, in a football state, headlines were made in the fall around a four-team double-header featuring matchups between the four Ohio schools?
Am I truly the only person that wants to see Michael Porter Jr. step into Allen Fieldhouse and have a go at Kansas?
If we really want to make college basketball more relevant, find a way to make the coaches with eight-figure contracts play the games that their fans actually give a damn about. Until then, I hope the fans paying for season tickets enjoy the first seven games of their ticket package coming against teams that get paid upwards of $100,000 to come to town and lose by 30.