Best Rivalries in College Basketball

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When the school around your place of residence is set to play its greatest and sworn rival, you can cancel any other plans you had for entertainment. These games are major fun! Unfortunately, some of the oldest and most bitter rivalries are waning away with the realignment of conferences. The changes have unfortunately smothered some of these traditional rivals since they no longer meet anymore, not even during the big annual rivalry week. 

Most college basketball games are pretty hard fought, but rivalry games take it up a notch.  A lot goes into these games.  A history of great matchups is important.  Close proximity usually causes fans to really want bragging rights.  But there are a few series that are huge even outside of the chosen fan bases.

Residents of Bluegrass State are perhaps the luckiest college basketball fans. Their teams, Kentucky and Louisville, dominate other teams and even one time met each other in the semis of a NCAA tournament. One of the factors that have fueled the rivalry has been the fact that Rick Pitino has coached at both schools. The drama is so significant that when the rivalry was almost smothered by conference realignments, the then governor and sitting state Congress made it law that the two schools had to play each other every year. That is how much cherished their rivalry has been.


These are top teams and are important constituents of the Big Ten. For over a century, they have played in the same conference and have both won several championships. These teams enjoy massive support because the state of Indiana is big on college basketball. The colleges are just 100 miles apart from each other but have always managed to grip support of over four cities which take sides and conspire to jeer each other in hostile games which are always televised to the ecstasy of all hoop connoisseurs. Big shot basketball personalities like Ryne Smith, Gene Keady and Bob Knight all attribute the peaking of their careers to the rivalry. They claim that the electrifying crowds are the reason they have had spurred up moments of sheer brilliance in performance.

Duke-North Carolina
One of the major reason the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils have been going at each other for decades is that their coaches are brilliant men. Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams of the Tar Heels has been able to keep the stunningly brilliant Mike Krzyzewski at his toes in the Atlantic Coast Conference games year after year. The two teams have always surprised their fans every year by restocking their teams despite losing their stars to the NBA draft.

Of course, great talent brings about thrilling games and an insane fan base, the perfect recipe for a great rivalry. The drama can go on forever and find new life each passing year! These colleges are very close to each other geographically but a world apart regarding basketball. The biggest reason for the beef is that the proximity entails fans interacting with one another. All sports fan interaction worldwide are characterized by extreme mocking and trash talk.


These campuses are probably the closest to each other that proximity can allow. At a distance of only three miles, the shooting matches that go on during any major basketball events between these two rivals is more dramatic than gang affiliated confrontations. The only difference is that sports rivals barter each other psychologically and not physically like gangs. The annual shootout between the Bearcats and the Musketeers literary rips apart the town folks for a week. The drama is always intense for families with siblings attending both campuses and worse if both play for their basketball teams.

Jay Bilas has been quoted several times marveling at the intense and passionate rivalry. The ESPN analyst finds the Crosstown Shootout to be unparalleled. Anytime these two meet on any court, be sure the host community will enjoy many advantages. There will be a filled stadium, and local fast-food joints will make huge sales, and basketball fans will be treated to overtime thrillers, and mixed reactions of triumph and pitfalls.


The rival between the Wildcats and the Bruins dates as back as in the 1960s. It used to be lopsided, but every much as competitive and passionate as now but the tide of Bruins supremacy was put to rest with the arrival of Lute Olson in Tucson. Now, anytime these two meet on the court, there is absolutely no way one can predict the outcome.

The UCLA Wildcats are a great team that had in a decade won 10 national championships. However, their superiority has only been put to question by their all-time rivals who have had a record of 23-28 against the Wildcats. Any keen basketball fan will appreciate that that is a fabulous feat to achieve against such an imposing team. This rivalry used to be a state issue but has grown to be a full-fledged national basketball affair. For the sake of improving ratings, most TV stations always try to get rights to televise any clash between these two titans.