College Basketball Rivalry Week Provides Madness In February
Sure, some claim the same storylines are over-played on the popular sports networks for weeks on end, but what most forget is that Rivalry Week, aside from rounds one and two of the tournament, is the most exciting week in college hoops.
We see the cliché of David versus Goliath and the numerous storylines of teams attempting to maintain dominance and preserve the winning tradition of their university. We have seen it played out so many different ways and across the entire sports spectrum.
Without a doubt, rivalry games exude an energy that is sometimes lacking in sports. As most athletes can state, there is nothing sweeter than competing against your most-despised rival. Athletes bring their A-game to rivalry games and seek to earn the respect of their town, city, state, and most importantly, their opponent.
Thus far, the 2012 edition of Rivalry Week has certainly been exciting for college basketball fans. On Wednesday, No. 2 Syracuse defeated No. 11 Georgetown 64-61 in overtime. Orange senior forward Kris Joseph nailed down 29 points for Syracuse, including the 3-pointer which clinched the overtime victory. Joseph fished the game with a career-high six 3-pointers. Not only did the game signify the dominance of Syracuse in the Big East conference, it also marked the 880th career victory for Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. Boeheim ranks third in all-time wins for Division I men's basketball coaches (behind Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight, respectively).
In one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports, Duke and North Carolina faced off on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill. It seemed to be a scene straight out of a movie. Duke, trailing by 10 points with just two minutes remaining, rallied and clinched the victory with a game-winning shot by freshman guard Austin Rivers. Rivers posted 29 points for the Blue Devils including the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Duke the 85-84 victory. North Carolina’s loss snapped its 31-game home court win streak. No matter what side of Tobacco Road you may root for, without a doubt, this game will go down not only in each school's history but in basketball history as well. It was an iconic moment that we have often practiced and simulated in our own backyards.
The tenth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks upset sixth-ranked Baylor Bears 68-54 Wednesday night on Baylor's home court. The Jayhawks' Jeff Withey scored a career-high 25 points and surpassed his previous career high before halftime. Along with Withey, Kansas was led by guard Tyshawn Taylor and forward Thomas Robinson who scored 19 and 15 points, respectively. Kansas upset Baylor for the second time this season. The first came just three weeks ago when Kansas shattered Baylor's then-undefeated season and its longest winning streak in school history.
As Syracuse, Duke and Kansas have exemplified this week, Rivalry Week provided plenty of the exciting moments we love about college basketball: buzzer beaters, upsets, and victories over conference rivals. These three games will certainly be remembered for their iconic moments for years to come. Although we sports fans are anxiously awaiting the pandemonium the reigns during March Madness, don't forget about the moments that sent the teams dancing, especially those that occurred during Rivalry Week.