Robert Morris and Duquesne play Saturday, a game that seemingly doesn't carry much weight aside from the fact that it involves two local colleges. Compared to some of the Colonials' faceless opponents on its non-conference slate from little-heard-of schools, Robert Morris fans know all about the Dukes, almost through osmosis. They're about 20 miles away, they're coached by an old NEC foe in Jim Ferry and the two teams play almost every season to the point where some deem it a rivalry.
The question -- at least for me as a relative newcomer -- is 'Is this actually a rivalry?'
In some sense, there's no way it should be one. The teams play in different conferences and a victory over the other won't be the difference in getting an at-large NCAA tournament berth, the ultimate goal for either program. Even the City Game between Pitt and Duquesne doesn't have much, if any, luster to anyone under the age of 50, so how can the games between the Colonials and Dukes mean anything?
On the other hand, it has the makings of solid rivalry. Pittsburgh's what I would call a pretty good college town. Pro sports obviously come first, as they do in any other major American city with multiple professional franchises, but it's not as apathetic toward college sports as cities like Boston or New York. As anyone that lives here knows well, much of that attention goes toward Pitt, with the remaining amount of coverage being split among a slew of other schools, a group that includes area colleges like Penn State and West Virginia.
But in the actual Pittsburgh area, there are only two other Division I college basketball programs -- Duquesne and Robert Morris. To me, there's a natural push to be the city's so-called second school. At Robert Morris, that tendency to jockey for position is evident sometimes, at least from a media standpoint. For the longest time, Duquesne has been the city's de-facto second college team. But, given the Colonials' recent success and the Dukes' relative futility in that time, there's a sort of "Hey, why aren't we the second team?" mindset at Robert Morris. Not everyone feels that way, but for more than a few people, it's a very real sentiment.
In the apples-to-oranges world of comparing mid-major basketball programs, head-to-head success is as good of a barometer as any for how two schools stack up against one another. Thus, the annual game should have some importance.
I don't think I've done this before -- largely because I rarely get comments on this blog -- but I'll open the floor to Robert Morris and Duquesne fans alike in the comments section. What is the meaning of this game? Is there any significance to it at all? I've been with the P-G for a little over a year now, so I feel like I've gotten a good grasp on the local college scene, but I'd like to hear from some fans and students that have either lived here for longer than me or have more of a personal connection to either school.