Another day another great reason to love college sports gets unveiled. This time it's a game I've actually experienced, but one that ranked high enough on the rest of the staff's lists to make it in to the 2nd twenty-five on the list.
Don't forget to check out the Civil War that we featured yesterday before digging in to today's addition to the MTB College Sports Bucket List.
No. 74 - Iowa State vs. Kansas (DI Basketball):
Like I said, this is a game I've had the privilege of attending in person and I can tell you that it more than lived up to the hype. Typically you may not think of Iowa State and Kansas when talking about the Big 12 as of late, but talk to anyone involved in the conference and they will tell you about a little thing called "Hilton Magic."
What is Hilton Magic and why does it matter to Iowa State vs. Kansas? Hilton Magic is a reference to what happens at the home arena of the Cyclone basketball team - Hilton Coliseum. It was coined after a massive 1983 upset over highly ranked Missouri and the legend took off after the Cyclones avenged a massive beat down from Oklahoma State shortly there after. A lot also has to do with the nature of the arena and it's fans. The venue is a completely concrete structure that holds sound in unlike any place I've ever been in and the fans are right on top of the action, something a lot of the newer arenas in America lack. It all adds up to a raucous crowd that's as intimidating as they come for the vast majority of games. Since the advent of "Hilton Magic," Kansas teams that have come in to Ames have left the area wondering what hit them quite often.
These two teams' rivalry dates back to the days of the Big 8 where the Cyclones and Jayhawks often found themselves fighting it out for the conference crown during the Johnny Orr era and now in to the Big 12 with the resurgence of the Cyclone program under "The Mayor" Fred Hoiberg.
The series may not be overwhelmingly close, it stands 170-58 in favor of Kansas, but it's one of the longest standing series that the Cyclones have played and these two have battled it out since the days of the original Missouri Valley Conference, through the Big 6 & Big 8, up to today's version of the Big XII.
However lopsided the series may seem the games are very competitive, especially in Ames where the record is 66-36 in favor of the Jayhawks. In Lawrence it's not nearly the same with ISU only gaining 15 victories in it's history. However, throw records out of the window when these two meet, these teams give each other everything they have and then some on a regular basis.
Sometimes it's not the record, but how the games are played and more often than not no matter the venue these two teams put on a show. Don't believe me? Ask any current or former Jayhawk what arena and team outside of the Tigers of Missouri they would least like to play in and Hilton will be the next word out of their mouths.
This game and rivalry will take on a bit more meaning going forward because the biggest rivalry in the conference in terms of basketball is no more thanks to Missouri's departure to the SEC and the unwillingness to play the game on behalf of the Tigers. That fact leaves ISU vs. Kansas as the most recognizable game with any sort of history in the conference. It's sure to be an interesting new era in the redone Big XII to say the least and Kansas and Iowa State just may have a few things to say about the direction the on the court product takes going forward.