Welcome to Oregon Basketball and The Season of New, a weekly Pac-12 microsite column from Rockne Roll (@raroll). His column will focus on the various issues facing college basketball through the prism of the Oregon Ducks, a program ostensibly on the rise with top-notch facilities and coaching but still subject to many of the same problems suffered by many of the other high-major programs around the country.
Not all conference games are created equal, particularly in a conference where there’s a wide separation between best and worst. And while the Oregon Ducks have been saying that they prepare for every game with the same degree of intensity and focus, one can’t help but think that there might have been a little something extra that went into the preparation for Sunday’s conference opener against a team the Ducks have played 337 times before this one. Because what better way for Oregon to start conference play than the longest running rivalry in college basketball; the Civil War against the Beavers of Oregon State.
The Civil War has all the makings of a classic rivalry: two big schools with big athletic programs in the same conference separated by 40 or so miles of Interstate 5 and a million miles in terms of campus and community culture. Between Corvallis, the small, rural town with its agricultural college turned engineering and forestry nexus, and Eugene, the famed hippie and beatnick mecca with its liberal arts (emphasis on the liberal) focus that is sometimes referred to as UC Eugene, the whole state takes sides based on location, family history, and alumni status.