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Saturday night marks new chapter of TCU-Baylor athletic rivalry

It’s bizarre for a lot of people in Fort Worth to be so excited about a TCU-Baylor basketball game.

Football often comes to mind when the TCU-Baylor rivalry is brought to discussion. The two schools both rose to national limelight on the gridiron in recent seasons, elevating the battle of Big 12 foes to new heights for seemingly years to come.

The in-state rivals will go head-to-head once again Saturday night in Fort Worth, and plenty is on the line. Except this time around, the setting is a bit different – the hardwood floor of the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena, to be exact.

That’s right – for the first time in recent memory, TCU and Baylor Basketball are playing in a highly-anticipated contest, as the No. 6 Bears roll into town to take on a revamped Horned Frog team that is enjoying newfound success under first-year coach and TCU alum Jamie Dixon.

It’s mind-boggling to believe it – that the TCU-Baylor rivalry on the court may have a more competitive future than that over on the turf given recent events, but it’s a undeniable reality considering how many strides each team has made.

For the Frogs, the new leadership under Dixon has brought about a renaissance for a program that was for four seasons the doormat of the Big 12. Coming off a 2015-16 campaign that saw the team go 12-21 with a dismal 2-16 conference record, TCU is already at 14-4. That includes victories over Iowa State and Texas, who the Frogs had not defeated since 1997 and 1987, respectively. For TCU, a competitive team in arguably the best conference in college basketball is nothing short of a new frontier.

Ninety miles south in Waco, national prominence is not unchartered territory for the Bears, but the 2016-17 season has by far been one of the most promising campaigns in program history. Head coach Scott Drew and the Bears found themselves atop the college basketball world last week when they were voted No. 1 in the AP Poll for the first time in school history. They would go on to lose to West Virginia just one day after earning the spot, their only loss of the season, but a 17-1 record and a No. 6 ranking makes Baylor a force to be reckoned with.

And aside from any early departures, neither school should be taking steps backward anytime soon, as youth is aplenty. For the Frogs, who received the most votes of any unranked school in the latest poll, only four players on the 15-man roster will be graduating this year. For Baylor, the only senior is guard Ishmail Wainright.

It’s exciting. It’s unexpected. And quite frankly, it’s bizarre for a lot of people in Fort Worth to be so excited about a TCU-Baylor basketball game. But go ahead and get used to it, because we do in fact have two very talented teams dueling it out in what should be an incredible atmosphere Saturday night. Revivalry, the show is yours.

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