Last weekend Oregon beat Washington 81-76 with the Ducks playing at the Matthew Knight Center. Last Wednesday Oregon beat Washington State 74-66. Also on Wednesday, Oregon State beat Washington State 68-61. On Saturday Oregon State lost to Washington State 71-68. All of these games added to some of the most played rivalries in the history of college basketball.
Sometime over the next month, ESPN will play up "rivalry week." Rivalry week will feature games played from whatever it seems ESPN has deemed "rivalries." Yet, the most played rivalries are almost exclusively in an area and region that ESPN rarely covers.
Duke and North Carolina will receive an extensive amount of coverage when they meet. However, North Carolina and Duke have played only 234 times entering this season and they did not first meet until January 24, 1920, while the ACC was not actually formed until 1956, limiting the number of conference match ups that they had. North Carolina leads the all time series 132 to 102. However, this does not even place the rivalry in the top 10 most played.
Easily the most played college basketball rivalry is the Oregon/Oregon State basketball version of "the Civil War". In fact, the Pacific Northwest dominates the list of the most played rivalries with seven of the top ten featuring schools from the region. The Oregon/Oregon State rivalry started when the teams first met on January 24, 1902 when Oregon State beat Oregon 32-2. Since then they have played at least one time every year, with Oregon State holding a 184-153 advantage. The series primarily featured two conference match ups annually, however, in 1913-14 they played six times and in 1953-54 and 1959-60 the schools met five times. They played four times in a season multiple times, most recently in 1975-76, during that season, Oregon State won a game played on December 30, 1976 which was ultimately forfeited back to Oregon.
The Far West Classic, played from 1959 to 1990, featured eight teams and also increased the number of match ups the schools had with the Beavers and Ducks playing an additional time often at a neutral arena in Portland, Oregon. In 1991 the Far West Classic was not played, however, it returned in 1992 and in '92, '93, '95, and '96 the Beavers and Ducks played an additional third time in this tournament. (Including the two Pac 8, Pac 10 or now Pac 12 Conference match ups.) However, 1996 was the last year for this event. Oregon and Oregon State have played in the following locations: Portland, Oregon (10 times), Salem, Oregon for the Pacific Coast Northern Division Playoff Championship game and of course Corvalis and Eugene multiple times.
It is interesting to note that in the state of Indiana, often cited home of college basketball, IU has only played Purdue University 198 times with Purdue holding a 112-86 advantage, in spite of the fact that these schools first met in 1901.
Previously, we wrote a little about the BYU/Utah rivalry. (Here is a link to that article including Conroy's account of his rivalries with VMI (http://www.mylosingseason.net/2008/01/rivalry.html). Interesting to note, however, that the Citadel's most played rival is Furman whom they have met 196 times entering this season.
The most played rivalries are (again number of games entering the 2012-13 season):
1. Oregon State vs. Oregon, 184-153 (337 times) Oregon State advantage
2. Oregon vs. Washington, 187-105 (292 times) Washington advantage
3. Oregon State vs. Washington, 154-137 (291 times) Washington advantage
4. Oregon State. vs. Washington State, 163-123 (286 times) Oregon State advantage
5. Montana vs. Montana State, 147-136 (283 times) Montana State advantage, play again on March 2.
5. Oregon vs. Washington State, 160-123 (283 times) Oregon advantage
7. Washington vs. Washington State, 174-100 (274 times) Washington advantage
7. Kansas vs. Kansas State, 183-91 (274 times) Kansas advantage
9. Kansas vs. Missouri 172-95 (267 times) Kansas advantage not playing this year and no longer a conference game.
10. Cal vs. Stanford 143-114 (257 times) Cal leads
11. Utah vs. BYU 127-125 (252 times) BYU leads, also no longer a conference match up.
There are certainly other notable rivalries not on this list, and some observers might be surprised as to the number of times they have played (results following are only through 2009 season) Mississippi and Mississippi State (Miss. State leads 134-105) and New Mexico with a 108-94 series lead over NMSU.
Some of the midmajors have storied traditions, Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State is interesting because Sam Houston State shows SFA with a 91-90 series lead while SFA shows the lead as 98-88. Others of note include Santa Clara and Saint Mary's (Santa Clara with a 131-74 advantage), Murray State and Austin Peay (Murray with a 69-40 series advantage), Penn with a 122-98 advantage over Princeton and Niagara and Canisius (Niagara with a 94-72 series edge).
Boston College and Holy Cross is also of special note as Holy Cross actually leads the series. After discontinuing it's program in 1909, BC actually helped revive the Holy Cross program. However, thanks partially to legendary Bob Cousy and its domination during the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's Holy Cross leads the rivalry 58-54 (including the 2012 BC win). However, the rivalry was discontinued in 2006, but renewed in 2010 with Boston College winning the first match up of the renewed Boston rivalry and the most recent one in 2012.
Enjoy rivalry week when it comes, but keep in mind that these are often just games and schools that ESPN has marketed as rivalries. The true rivalries started long before this.