According to a report in the UMass student newspaper The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the annual "Commonwealth Classic" between Boston College and Massachusetts will be put on hold starting this season.
According to a Daily Hampshire Gazette report, UMass athletic director John McCutcheon confirmed that the Eagles would be dropping the Minutemen from their schedule beginning next season. He cited that BC's Atlantic Coast Conference schedule expansion from 16 to 18 games was the reason for calling off the rivalry game.
"They informed us because of the expanded ACC schedule that they didn't feel that they could continue the series," McCutcheon told the Gazette.
The two programs have played off and on since 1905, with the officially designated "Commonwealth Classic" starting in 1995. If anything the Classic as a basketball series has been anything but interesting.
The Minutemen won the first five meetings in the Classic, going 6-0 against the Eagles in the 1990s. Boston College rebounded by winning the first seven games in the series and every game in the 2000s except for 2007 (9-1). After winning the 2010 installment of the Classic, BC was waxed by the Minutemen last year, 82-46.
Boston College holds a 26-19 edge in the 45-game series.
While I'm a bit disappointed that BC has decided to put the Commonwealth "Classic" on hold, this was all too predictable given the ACC's move to an 18-game conference schedule. After an 18-game conference schedule, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and an exempt holiday tournament, the Eagles have just eight non-conference dates a year to schedule. As Donahue mentioned earlier this week, there needs to be a balance.
UMass isn't going to displace either of BC's Catholic rivals from the annual sched, with Holy Cross (111 games) and Providence (106 games) sharing a much longer history with the Eagles than UMass.
Of the remaining non-UConn, regional rivals, I can't argue UMass' claim to an annual spot on BC's schedule over other programs like Rhode Island (50 games), Boston University (46) or Harvard (45). All four of those programs could probably argue for an annual series. If I had to pick one of those programs for the Eagles to play annually, I'm probably taking Harvard, especially given BC's recent streak of futility against the Crimson. If I had to pick a second, I'd probably go with Boston University, hoping the Green Live rivalry hate spills over onto the hardwood.
Again, I'm disappointed that BC-UMass is no more but this was extremely predictable. Boston College needs to strike a balance on the non-conference portion of the schedule, especially with the addition of two more ACC games and three games against Syracuse and Pittsburgh (Cuse 2x). Ideally, BC would fill their eight non-conference slots a year with this schedule:
-- 1 vs. Providence
-- 1 vs. Holy Cross
-- 1-2 regional rivals on a rotating basis (1-2 of UMass, Harvard, Rhode Island, Boston University, Northeastern)
-- 2 major conference programs (USC, Notre Dame and Auburn have all been mentioned this week)
-- 2-3 "guarantee" games against teams like Bryant, the NEC, the Ivy League and America East