Dribble handoffs: Duke vs. Gonzaga, Kentucky vs. Indiana in home-and-home hoops series we want to see

Dribble handoffs: Duke vs. Gonzaga, Kentucky vs. Indiana in home-and-home hoops series we want to see

Duke and Arizona recently made an announcement Agreement to schedule home and home series Beginning in the 2023-24 season. The series breaks a long-standing trend of the Blue Devils avoiding (mostly) challenging non-conference road games and sets college hoops up for what should be one of the best home-and-home series on the slate in the next few years. It also gets us thinking about the fun possibilities of other non-conference matchups.

There are plenty of quality games played between conference and non-conference opponents that consistently deliver the goods, of course — Duke-UNC, Cincinnati-Xavier and Kentucky-Louisville all come to mind. There are plenty of other juicy matchups, which either haven’t happened recently, or haven’t happened at all, and could provide drama in a fun atmosphere.

So what non-conference matchups would we schedule if our panel was empowered to drop a home-and-home series on the slate for one day? Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, David Cobb, and I each consider that question below.

Kentucky vs. Indiana

Kentucky and Indiana met every year from 1965 to 2012. They’ve played a total of 57 times, with the campuses of these two giant basketball brands in bordering states separated by only 170 miles.

It was one of the best rivalries in non-league.

But the annual series ended after the 2011-12 season — when Christian Watford hit one of the most memorable buzzer-beaters of the century to send the Hoosiers past the Wildcats — because the two sides continued to disagree on how. Kentucky coach John Calipari wanted to take the series off campus and play at a neutral site. But then-Indiana coach Tom Crean wanted to keep the series as is and alternate between Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena. No one will move. Nothing has changed in the past decade. So now UK and IU don’t play every year, which is unfortunate for a number of reasons, mostly because one less game annually between prominent powers isn’t good for anyone.

While I understand the appeal of neutral-site games — financially and otherwise — I’ve always believed that college basketball is best at home venues. Gonzaga-Duke in Las Vegas was great last year — but it will be 10 times cooler inside the kennel or Cameron Indoor. And that’s why I applauded the announcement earlier this week that first-year Duke coach John Scheer agreed to take his Blue Devils on the road to Arizona at the expense of another neutral-site contest. Wouldn’t it be great if more trainers in the blue-blood program were willing to do the same more regularly? — Gary Parrish

Gonzaga vs. Duke

It’s an encouraging sign that John Scheer is willing to do what Mike Krzyzewski was unwilling to do for the final fourth of his career: pick up home-and-home series against power-conference opponents. With that in mind, we’re not stopping at Arizona vs. Duke. Let’s keep it in the West and let the Blue Devils play a school that has offered a couple of really great games in the history of the minor league. Duke and Gonzaga have never played in each other’s home gyms. It’s not surprising, but it’s something that should end soon. Just visually stunning. Picture this in your mind now: Gonzaga unis inside Cameron Indoors; Duke players have an uphill battle in the kennel.

I know Mark Few wants it. Duke is on the very short list of big-time programs that have yet to schedule Gonzaga in a series, home-and-home or otherwise, and it’s a bit of a white whale for him. You have the ultimate Cinderella-to-powerhouse against one of the most popular/polarizing programs in college sports. On opposite coasts, two small universities that have two of the winningest programs of the past 20 years.

Duke is 4-1 all-time with Gonzaga’s only win coming in 2018 in Maui. Both teams have been ranked in five match-ups, three recent (2015, 2018, 2021) top-10 affairs. There’s a long list of houses I’d like to see Duke sign up under Shear, but Gonzaga has to be at the top of the list, certainly while Few is still running the program and the Bulldogs are Final Four contenders on an annual basis. . –Matt Norlander

Kansas vs. Missouri

Rivalries are great and all, but are there rivalries with their own names, Kansas and Missouri border wars? Those just hit a little differently, you know?

These two programs hate each other. Double hate. Totally hated, even. It stemmed from a long in-conference rivalry that spanned more than a century before Missouri made the jump to the SEC, and it never quite ended. Although they’ve only played once — a lopsided victory by Kansas in 2021 — the rivalry between the two sides remains.

This is exactly the kind of non-conference showdown that college administrators shouldn’t avoid. A win for college hoops fans. Kansas and Missouri fans win. When both parties invest heavily, it delivers a sporting product that is impossible to replicate. — Kyle Boone

Texas Tech vs. Michigan

Michigan star center Hunter Dickinson fired off a now-deleted tweet on April 29 calling Texas Tech coach Mark Adams a “coward.” Dickinson’s public shot apparently involved Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon being unable to enroll at Michigan. The allegation is that Adams would not allow Shannon to take summer classes at Texas Tech after Shannon announced his intention to transfer. Apparently, that prevented him from enrolling at Michigan, at least according to Dickinson.

Instead, Shannon ended up at Illinois, where he will compete against Michigan in the 2022-23 season. Capitalize on the offseason beef between the Wolverines and Red Raiders to give fans a grudge matchup in Michigan. Then, next season, the Wolverines can make the trip back and maybe we’ll have a new, great rivalry in college basketball. Dickinson and Michigan coach Juan Howard aren’t afraid to show their passion, and Michigan fans will likely give Texas Tech the kind of warm welcome Red Raiders fans gave Chris Baird when he returned to Texas last season. It was an absolutely wild scene, and if we could replicate it with a non-conference series, it would be a blast. — David Cobb

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