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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Non Existant, Will We Ever See Them Again?

The one thing that hardly anyone can debate in college basketball is the fact that the best rivalry is Duke/North Carolina.

But what about west coast college basketball rivalries? Do they exist? It certainly appears that they do not. While you can always say that in-state schools have a rivalry, they really do not in basketball. Football, yes. Basketball, no.

There were the making of some of these rivalries, but they have not had the staying power and  at this juncture seem to have flamed out. Arizona/UCLA, BYU/Utah and Utah St./Nevada have all had their mini runs as potential great rivalries, but have fizzled out at various times and for sure, have not sustained the test of time.

The closest thing to a rivalry in basketball on the west coast is Gonzaga/St. Mary's, but a real examination of those two teams, begs to differ. In order to have a real rivalry, one team should never dominate, but as much as it would appear different, Gonzaga owns the basketball court when it comes to meeting the Gaels.

Gonzaga and St. Mary's have played some great games in the past few years. Last year, the teams won in overtime on the other's home court and in 2009-10, St. Mary's won the West Coast Conference tournament and advanced to the NCCA tournament by defeating the Zags, but when you look at the fact that Gonzaga has won 11 straight WCC league championships, every year they advance to the NCCA tournament, while the appearances in the NCAA tournament by St. Mary's have been sparse. Despite having some very good teams under Randy Bennett,  St Mary's has not won the WCC regular season championship since 1989.

As sad as it might be and as much as people want to claim that it is a rivalry, the real facts on Gonzaga/ St. Mary's do not measure up to a great rivalry, in the making, yes, but still the Gaels have  long way to go.

As I have said over and over, west coast basketball is pretty good, much better than most people give it credit for, but to really get on the map again, it needs some Duke/North Carolina, Georgetown/Syracuse and Louisville/Kentucky type rivalries.

Will we get them, only time will tell, but hope always exists.

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