But there's something missing from some traditional rivalries this year.
UCLA against USC doesn't quite measure up to games of yore. North Carolina against Duke pales in comparison to Duke vs. Maryland.
Other rivalries are as heated as ever. These classic games boil fans' blood and rouse memories of the past:
Indiana vs. Kentucky
Indiana guard Tom Coverdale just wanted to have a good Christmas. Too bad Kentucky didn't let him.
The Hoosiers lost to Kentucky for the third consecutive year, 70-64, days before the holiday.
"What sticks out in my mind," Coverdale said, "(is) that feeling going home for Christmas, losing to Kentucky."
If Santa had been watching, Indiana coach Mike Davis would've had a stocking full of coal.
With 12.8 seconds left and the Hoosiers down one, Indiana guard Bracey Wright drove the lane and flipped a layup that caromed out. But Davis believed Wright was fouled and stormed the court to plead his case.
"(Davis') rivalry with Kentucky goes back to his playing days at Alabama and the Southeastern Conference," said Indiana Interim Director of Athletics Terry Clapacs. "Then he comes to Indiana, where Kentucky is one of our key rivalries. These games mean a lot."
Kentucky vs. Louisville
The fans at Kentucky had more than one date to circle when former coach Rick Pitino took over as coach at Louisville last year.
Pitino, who coached the Wildcats to the 1996 national championship, came back to Rupp Arena for the first time on Dec. 29, 2001, and was met with a chorus of boos as Kentucky crushed Louisville, 82-62.
"Everyone grows up wanting to play in this game," Kentucky junior Antwain Barbour said. "It's an even bigger rivalry now, and it's one of the biggest games of the year."
The Louisville program has improved since the blowout loss and is riding a 15-game win streak, including an 81-63 drubbing of the Wildcats on Dec. 28.
"I don't have any special feelings," Pitino told the Associated Press, "but it would've been terrible if we'd have lost."
Maryland vs. Duke
If Maryland lost to Duke, it wouldn't have been because of lack of preparation.
The Terps had returned at 3 a.m. on Jan. 16 after losing to Wake Forest. But later that day, Maryland head coach Gary Williams extended practice to prepare for the Blue Devils.
"(There was) no complaining about how come practice was so long," Williams said. "They knew we had to work on some things if we wanted to win."
Whatever Williams did, it worked. Maryland dethroned then-No. 1 Duke, 87-72.
Maryland fans rushing the court cemented this game as a marquee rivalry.
Illinois vs. Missouri
This non-conference matchup could be the best in the country.
About 22,000 fans filled the Savvis Center on Dec. 21 to watch the "Braggin' Rights Game," which dates back to 1976.
This year, Illinois beat Missouri, 85-70, and also beat the Tigers' Arthur Johnson's confidence. Johnson, who then averaged 17 points, scored just eight.
Following the loss, Johnson left the locker room crying with his head tucked into his towel.
"He was really pressing," Missouri coach Quin Snyder told the AP. "(The rivalry) means something to him."
Knight still at 799
Texas Tech coach Bob Knight will have to wait another game.
Bernard King scored 18 points as Texas A&M beat the Red Raiders, 64-59, on Saturday in Knight's first attempt to win his 800th game.
Knight, who's trying to become the fourth Division I coach to reach the milestone, trails Dean Smith of North Carolina (879), Adolph Rupp of Kentucky (876) and Jim Phelan of Mount St. Mary's (826).
"The 800 thing is not something (our team) talked about,'' Texas A&M coach Melvin Watkins said.
Eighteen teams will compete Feb. 22 in ESPN's inaugural "Bracket Buster Saturday."
The nine games feature schools predicted to be future upset teams, including the marquee matchup of No. 13 Creighton (19-2) and Fresno State (15-4), at noon.
"Playing a team like Creighton on national television is a big thrill for our program," Bulldogs coach Ray Lopes told the AP. "They have obviously proven they are one of the top teams in the nation this year, so playing them on the road will present a great opportunity for us."
Up and coming
Creighton. The Blue Jays are 19-2 with wins over Brigham Young and Notre Dame. It's shaping up to be their best season in more than 60 years, and forward Kyle Korver (18.5 ppg) is shooting better than 50 percent from 3-point land.
He said what?
"I feel like the luckiest man in town. Never bought a lottery ticket in my life, but maybe I ought to tonight.''
— Kansas coach Roy Williams after the Jayhawks beat Missouri, 76-70, on Monday. The Tigers outrebounded (38-29) and hit eight more 3-pointers than the Jayhawks.
This and that
Harding's Aaron Farley missed a free throw Thursday to end his streak at 88, 10 short of the NCAA record. … Florida secured the No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history. … Virginia suspended guard Keith Jenifer indefinitely Monday for conduct detrimental to the team.
Traditional, recent rivalries headline hoops scene
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