When tournament organizers revealed next season's 2K Sports Classic field in February, one of the obvious questions was whether former New England rivals Boston College and UConn would meet for the first time since the Eagles left the Big East in 2005.
Now we know the answer is yes.
Boston College and UConn will renew acquaintances Nov. 21 at Madison Square Garden, according to ESPN.com's Andy Katz, with the winner facing either Indiana or Washington in the title game the next day. The meeting represents a thawing of the long-icy relationship New England's two most prominent schools have had in recent years.
Angered that Boston College wasn't upfront about its intentions to leave the Big East for the ACC, UConn coach Jim Calhoun told the Hartford Courant in 2003 that he would not continue the rivalry as non-league foes.
"We won't play BC after they leave here," Calhoun said at the time. "I have no desire to play Boston College. Not for the fact that they are leaving but how they did it. I will not play Boston College as long as I'm here."
Boston College athletic director Gene Defilippo didn't help matters in 2006 when he said bluntly, "There are no plans to play UConn in football or in basketball any time in the near future." Defilippo fanned the flames further in 2011 when he told the Boston Globe he objected to a potential UConn move to the ACC, calling it a matter of "turf."
With Calhoun and Defilippo both having retired, new coaches and athletic directors at both programs and Connecticut's governor pushing for the rivalry to be relaunched, old hostilities seem to have softened a bit. A one-time only meeting at Madison Square Garden doesn't mean an annual non-conference matchup is in the cards, but rest assured both schools could have gotten out of meeting one-another if they wanted.
The timing of next season's matchup is fortuitous because both programs appear to be on an upswing.
UConn should challenge Memphis for the first-ever American Athletic Conference title next season since it returns a talented backcourt of Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier and Omar Calhoun. And Boston College appears ready to ascend in the ACC standings and challenge for an NCAA bid thanks to the return of league freshman of the year Olivier Hanlan and promising junior-to-be Ryan Anderson.
Since UConn is losing many of its former Big East rivals to either the ACC (Syracuse, Pittsburgh) or the new Big East (Georgetown, Villanova), the Huskies have no shortage of potential annual non-conference foes to consider. If Boston College continues to rise in national relevance, hopefully UConn will consider that potential series more seriously too.
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