I can’t help but think of the 2007 college football season when talking about the rise of Big 12 North teams this season in college basketball.
In both instances, Kansas and Missouri brought the North to a certain level of respectability.
Two years ago on the gridiron, both programs garnered national attention. Going into the Nov. 27 game at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas was No. 2 and Missouri was No. 4. It was good attention for the North.
Same sort of deal in hoops this season. Of course, the Jayhawks and Tigers aren’t ranked in the top five, but KU is No. 16 and Missouri is No. 17. The nation got to witness a bitter rivalry on Monday in a game that went down to the wire. It was good attention for the North.
The past few years, though, the only time I’ve thought about North teams potentially being as good as South teams in football or men’s basketball is when Kansas and Missouri gave me a reason to bring it up. KU and MU are the North's only chance because the other four teams in the division might be decent in one sport, but they’re not elite, in the Top 25 sense, in the other. Kansas and Missouri — for now — are.
If the Jayhawks and Tigers sustain this type of success for the foreseeable future, who knows? Maybe the idea of North-South superiority will be worth debating every year.