Commentary

Border War sadly coming to an end

Updated: February 6, 2012, 10:55 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

It was sad to think that the last Border War in Columbia, Missouri was played on Saturday night.

The Kansas-Missouri game had so much passion and emotion. Clearly there was a lot at stake, both in the Big 12 race and in the pride category. With the Tigers heading to the SEC, it appears the Jayhawks do not want to resume the series in the immediate future.

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk had an eight-point lead late, only to see Marcus Denmon score nine straight points. The Tigers got to the winner' circle, 74-71, and over 15,000 fans at Mizzou Arena left happy. Now will they ever see this intense rivalry played in that arena again.

It is great for the fans, the players, and even the TV people like me. If you were there Saturday night, you could feel how special it was. There is no love lost, and everyone left their blood and guts on the court.

Over 100 years worth of memories, of players bragging about playing in this match-up ... all going away?

The Border War is something that should occur every year. It is so sad to see rivalries going away in college hoops. Goodbye Syracuse-Connecticut in the Big East as the Orange head to the ACC. Texas-Texas A&M is going by the boards in Big 12 country as the Aggies join the SEC. The Backyard brawl between Pittsburgh and West Virginia? Sorry, no longer a Big East staple.

Why can't teams like Missouri and Kansas meet once a year in non-league play. You see Louisville and Kentucky facing off; that is the best non-conference rivalry in the sport. There is excitement galore with Clemson and South Carolina, Florida against Florida State and Georgia against Georgia Tech.

The sport of college basketball is being hurt by these decisions. I know they are being dictated by football, but that doesn't mean Missouri belongs in the SEC. Syracuse was an original member of the Big East, but its new rivals are the likes of Clemson, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. Are you serious?

I am going to miss a lot of these rivalries. A night like Saturday in Columbia was special. The atmosphere was incredible. It brought out a number of former Tigers football players now in the NFL like quarterback Blaine Gabbert of the Jaguars and Jeremy Maclin of the Eagles. They wanted to be part of that moment.

You could feel the intensity with every Thomas Robinson move inside, every Kim English jumper, every critical play down the stretch.

Let's hope cooler heads prevail down the line. I think that if coach Bill Self wants this series to resume, it could happen. The door is not shut.

We will get one more Border War later this month in Lawrence. I hope we see Kansas and Missouri hook up on the hardwood after that. It may just take some time, and it won't happen right away in Columbia.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.