Duquesne's Rival: Importance and Staying Power

This is the third part of a four part series on who Duquesne's biggest rival is. In this portion I will be looking at importance and staying power. If you haven't read them, here are part 1 and part 2

Importance is an interesting category that doesn't always jump out as something important for rivalries. I learned back in the day when I was really becoming a hockey fan, rivalries don't happen until teams have a history in the playoffs. I think this is true in any sport. Teams that regularly go head to head in meaningful games to win the conference or division will generally have more energy surrounding their games in years when the title is not on the line. For example, Pitt and Xavier have met a couple of times in later stages of the NCAA tournament. If those two teams met in the out of conference schedule, there would be an energy not normally present in a game like that one. Because they played highly meaningful games against one another, a minor rivalry began to form. Frequency also matters. The more teams play, the more opportunities they have for the rivalry to build. Any bad blood between a once a year match up has a long time to cool down. When you play someone twice a year, the animosity isn't going anywhere in the couple of weeks between matchups.

While the Dukes only play Pitt once a year, it may be one of the more meaningful games in their schedule every season. In terms of the press, only the biggest Big East match ups for Pitt get more coverage and build up from the local media than the City game does. Fans get behind it and it ends up being the best attended game of the season for either team in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the Dukes haven't gotten to play many games of late with the regular season conference championship on the line late in the season or with an NCAA at large bid looming in the balance for both teams so our in conference games haven't been as meaningful. Dayton played the Dukes in the semi's of the A-10 tournament in '08-9 but the two haven't met in the post season since. Duquesne and St Bonaventure played once in a first round game recently, but will play a fairly meaningful game for both teams this weekend. County game gets hype from me and just about no one else. Since I have absolutely no real clout, I rate that game as having very little meaning.

All in all, rate Importance as follows:

Meaningful Games Frequency of Games
Dayton 7 10 17
Pitt 8 5 13
Robert Morrs 3 58
St Bona 6 10 16

St Bonaventure and Dayton play the Dukes three times a year with the potential for a 3rd. Doesn't get better than that in college basketball in terms of frequency.  Pitt and Robert Morris are an annual series. Still good. The city game is probably the most meaningful game on the Duquesne schedule most years, but conference games are meaningful in their own right. Dayton played Duquesne in the Semi's of the 2009 A-10 tournament and has featured in a couple "red out" games. In conference, that's about as good as it gets for Duquesne right now. St Bonaventure got a single first round game against the Dukes recently and they have an important one coming this weekend. Robert Morris game is neither a conference game nor is it well covered. Regional bragging rights is enough for it to get a 3.

Staying Power 

Rivalries are like scotch. They get better with age. The better the ingredients and refining processes the better the whiskey. The anticipation that it will only continue to get better.

Rivalries need context and a story. If you can sum up a rivalry in a 5 minute lead in on Sports Center, it's probably not a strong rivalry. If you need a two part documentary with historians talking about its origins because the actual participants are all dead, you probably have something going. Robert Morris is relatively young rivalry but it spans 30 years. Dayton and Pitt go back much further. But nobody has a history like Duquesne and St Bonaventure. Since their first meeting in 1920, the Dukes played the Bonnies 106 times. The series has been renewed in each of the past 50 seasons except 1970. The City Game started in the 30's but went on hiatus for 14 years until 1953. From then on, it would skip the occasional year, but has been uninterrupted for past 13 years. Duquesne defeated Dayton in the 1955 NIT and went on to become national champions and they have played 65 times starting in the 1950's.

The next important part of staying power is competitiveness. This keeps people coming back year after year. With the exception of Pitt, Duquesne is 6-4 in the last ten meetings with each of the schools being analyzed. Dayton and Duquesne have played some great games since Ron Everhart took over as coach, but prior to that Dayton won 17 of 18. On the other hand, the series between Duquesne and St Bonaventure has always been fairly competitive. When one team was bad, so was the other. Unfortunately, it's been more bad than good for both programs.

Finally, I want to take into account team's desires to preserve the rivalries. Unless colleges start to relocate, Pitt and Robert Morris will always be close by. They have been interrupted from time to time, but they always resurface. As long as Dayton and St Bonaventure are in the same conference they will play at least once and year and it's likely that the Dukes and Bonnies will try to meet twice. However, the A-10's rests in the hand of what other conferences decide to do. When the dust settles from a possible future mega realignment and I think Duquesne is far more likely to end up in the same conference as Bona than they are with Dayton.

History Competitiveness Future
Dayton 7 6 5 18
Pitt 8 1 9 18
Robert Morrs 3 7 9 19
St Bona 10 8 8 26

St Bonaventure kills in this category. They have the most history, been the most competitive for the longest and I think their athletic department would do as much as they could to preserve the rivalry should the A-10 change. Dayton would be on the first train to Big East town. Pitt has history and a future, but it has been so one sided that it hurts the rivalry. Robert Morris has a relatively life time span, but it have been a fun series of late that should continue into the future.