When I walked into O'Connell Center in Gainesville on Tuesday night, I felt the energy and excitement. The Florida State-Florida rivalry has been a very good one for a long time. The game lived up to its billing, as Dwayne Bacon hit the winning shot. Nothing like a rivalry game going to the wire, baby!
I look at what happened last weekend in the Bluegrass State, when Kentucky hosted Louisville at Rupp Arena. Over 23,000 fans showed so much emotion and passion, and it was a great battle.
I love rivalries in college basketball. They are so special because the two teams care about the names on the front of the jersey.
Any time you have two teams in a close regional proximity, there is more intensity when they square off. Look at the recent Oakland University-Michigan State game, where they filled The Palace at Auburn Hills. That contest went to overtime in a thriller, with the Spartans escaping with a W.
I love what happens in Indiana annually. Indiana, Notre Dame, Butler and Purdue face off. The Crossroads Classic drummed up plenty of interest in the Hoosier State. Cincinnati and Xavier keep fans in the Queen City happy with their fierce rivalry.
We have seen a number of rivalries played this season due to early tournaments and matchups like the Big Ten against Big East in the Gavitt Tipoff. We had Georgetown and Maryland meet and that should happen every year.
Texas and Texas A&M squared off in the Bahamas.Those games were great for years, but the Aggies left for the SEC.
Syracuse and Connecticut met in the Bahamas, too. Former Big East teams have scheduled some rivalries, like Georgetown-Syracuse, Connecticut-Georgetown and St. John's-Syracuse. It is smart to keep these alive.
Rivalries are so important to the sport. Conference realignment has taken away some of the great ones. If you ever attended the Kansas-Missouri games when they were both in the Big 12, they were truly awesome. The Tigers went to the SEC, and the rivalry ended.
Why are rivalries so important during nonconference play? We have enough cupcake city contests, bargain basement goodies out there.
We need to set aside egos, set aside personal disagreements. Kentucky and Indiana should play every year. Ohio State and Cincinnati should play every season. Georgetown and Maryland should battle all the time.
To me, those games create the excitement and buzz in your program. They are so important in creating interest in the sports. The fans want them, the players want them, the media wants them.
I love rivalries, baby! Florida and Florida State put on a good show Tuesday.