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Philly Is #2 College Basketball Town

palestra_1927_medium2SB reported recently their Five Top College Basketball Metropolitan Areas, towns where "fans ignore their crappy professional teams and fuel the talk radio waves with (basketball) recruiting buzz, conference titles, and deep runs in March." Their top five are: (1) Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, (2) Philadelphia, (3) Cincinnati, (4) Louisville, and (5) Washington DC / Baltimore. New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles were nowhere to be found. About Philadelphia, they said, "In addition to boasting four major professional sports teams, The City of Brotherly Love is also home to the most unique tradition in college basketball ….

The Big 5, comprised of La Salle, Saint Joseph's, Temple, Pennsylvania and Villanova are all located within a 17 mile radius of each other, and many of the games are played at the historic Palestra located on Penn’s campus.


The Big 5 was formed in 1955 and games were played as double or triple-headers.  As schools began to join conferences, conflicts with scheduling arose and it became more difficult to allow all the schools to play each other. By 1991 the format was non-existent, but eight years later the series was back, much to the delight of the fans. The most notable rivalry within the Big 5 is between St. Joes and Villanova.  Dubbed the Holy War for the schools religious affiliations, the game is sort of an inferior vs. superior match-up.  St. Joseph's is a smaller school who would love to shake the mid-major label, while 'Nova is in the Big East...and frankly a notch high on the academic hierarchy.”