There's something starchy about the Iowa-Illinois basketball rivalry. Like its football counterpart, there's a history of dislike in this border battle dating way beyond the last couple of generations.
But the rivalry turned into a full-scale athletics war in the early 1990s. Former Iowa assistant coach Bruce Pearl secretly recorded recruit Deon Thomas admitting he was offered gifts by Illinois assistant Jimmy Collins in the recruiting process. The incident turned into basketball Armageddon between the schools, which were both quite good in the era.
So, to no one's surprise, Illinois was chosen as the basketball rival Iowa fans loathe in a poll I conducted last month. The voting wasn't even close. The Illini cleared 42 percent in the online poll, more than double second-place Wisconsin (20 percent). In-state foe Iowa State (13 percent) finished third.
There are countless moments of in this series, from the Pearl incident to Iowa snagging Illinois' best high school players and advancing to a pair of Final Fours in the 1950s. Andy Kaufmann’s epic last-split-second shot in 1993 was perhaps the league's top buzzer-beater in the 1990s. Iowa has lost 21 of 22 at Assembly Hall dating to 1987. The Illini lost 21 of 23 in Iowa City from 1965-1990.
The Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini are on a two-year, single-play cycle. They'll play in Assembly Hall this year (date undetermined).
Here are the poll results:[polldaddy poll=5188147]