Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Ten non-conference games that won't happen but should

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

View photo

.
From Duke's title game rematch against Butler, to Kentucky's potential showdown with Washington in Maui, to Steve Lavin's return visit to Pauley Pavilion, there are plenty of intriguing non-conference clashes ahead this college basketball season. Here are 10 more matchups I wish were on next season's schedule even though they each have little chance of happening this season or anytime soon:

1. Duke vs. Kentucky

Comment: The rivalry between the Blue Devils and Wildcats is unique because the two teams have produced so many memorable finishes even though they've only met 19 times in history. They've only squared off twice since the Christian Laettner shot in 1992, with Kentucky's Jeff Sheppard leading a historic comeback in the 1998 regional finals and then Jason Williams leading Duke to a memorable overtime victory early in the 2001-02 season.

2. Kentucky at Memphis

Comment: Not only would this be an intriguing matchup between the nation's two top freshman classes, it would also mark Kentucky coach John Calipari's return to the school he jilted in favor of the Wildcats. Calipari isn't a popular man in most opposing arenas, but he probably hasn't endured a verbal onslaught like the one that would await him in Memphis.

3. Ohio State vs. Xavier

Comment: Ohio State's unwillingness to play Xavier has continued even since former Musketeers coach Thad Matta took over the Buckeyes program earlier this decade. The only matchup between the two was a second-round NCAA tournament classic in which the top-seeded Buckeyes needed a buzzer-beating three-pointer to force overtime and advance.

4. _______ at Utah State

Comment: Utah State's amazing 176-13 home record in coach Stew Morrill's tenure has made it impossible for the Aggies to find a marquee out-of-state program willing to schedule a home-and-home. Just once it would be a lot of fun to see a Michigan State, a North Carolina or Syracuse come to Logan and see if it could survive Utah State's home dominance at the Spectrum.

5. Washington vs. Gonzaga

Comment: Washington and Gonzaga annually played some terrific games in the early 2000s before the Huskies inexplicably ended the series because they wanted to play a more national schedule. How neither side has succeeded in resuscitating the rivalry is a mystery because this is an in-state rivalry that would clearly draw huge crowds and sizeable TV ratings.

6. West Virginia at Kansas State

Comment: A matchup between Kansas State and West Virginia would certainly be worth watching basketball-wise, but it's the coaching showdown that would intrigue most viewers. Wildcats coach Frank Martin would meet friend and mentor Bob Huggins, who created the opening for Martin at Kansas State when he left after just one season to take over the West Virginia program.

7. Tennessee at Illinois

Comment: When Bruce Pearl was an Iowa assistant in the 1980s, he accused a colleague at Illinois of trying to lure a top Chicago-area recruit to Champaign with promises of cash and a car. Illinois fans have never forgiven Pearl for landing them on probation, so it's probably safe to say they'd have some fun with his recent spate of trouble with the NCAA.

8. Kansas State at Xavier

Comment: Of the truly memorable games from last year's NCAA tournament, this is probably the one you'd most like to see repeated (Besides Duke-Butler, which will be repeated). It's not the same without Jordan Crawford or Denis Clemente, but it's still a better than a Northern Iowa-Kansas rematch or another matchup between Michigan State and Maryland.

9. UCLA at Pittsburgh

Comment: UCLA's Ben Howland and Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon remain close friends despite being on opposite coasts, but Howland has been adamant that he will not willingly schedule a game against his former program. He wasn't even thrilled when the Bruins and Panthers met in the Sweet 16 in 2007 even though his UCLA team emerged with a 64-55 victory on its way to a second straight Final Four.

10. Notre Dame vs. USC

Comment: There are numerous great interconference football rivalries, but this is one of the few that doesn't seem to translate into hoops. It probably wouldn't draw the same level of interest as the annual football matchup does, but a home-and-home series between the Trojans and Irish would be a fun novelty for fans.

Honorable mention: Maryland vs. Georgetown; UTEP at USC; Boston College vs. UConn; Arizona at Xavier

View Comments (0)