What are the biggest rivalries in college basketball? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
To be the best, you have to beat the best and Mike Krzyzewski certainly did that in his 41 years at Duke. He will have another chance to win at the Cameron Indoor as he wraps up his regular season career against rivals North Carolina on March 5.
The Blue Devils currently sit atop the ACC and rank seventh in the nation. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels are tied for second in the conference and looking to spoil Coach K’s final goodbye at home. When the teams met earlier this season in February, Duke easily beat UNC 87-67. While the gambling sharks might lean towards the Blue Devils, no one can ever be counted out in this storied rivalry.
In honor of Coach K’s last Caroline-Duke showdown, here are 10 of college basketball’s best rivalries:
Face-to-face: North Carolina leads 141-115
Let’s prepare the ground. The granddaddy of all college basketball rivalries. Eleven NCAA championships and 39 ACC championships between these two teams puts them in an elite class. But what makes this rivalry so fierce?
Separated by just 10 miles along Tobacco Road, the matchups between these two blue bloods have become a staple of college basketball most recently characterized by the showdown between Coach K and former Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.
Coach K’s final at Cameron Indoor will pit him against a familiar foe, Carolina head coach Hubert Davis, who has been an assistant with the Tar Heels since 2012 before being elevated to coach- leader this season retired from Williams. Davis, a former Tar Heel himself, went 6-8 against the Blue Devils throughout his four-year college career.
State of Michigan and Ohio
Face-to-face: Ohio State leads 101-73
Although it doesn’t always get the same attention as the game on the football field, there is no love lost between these basketball teams.
Although each team has only one national championship to its name, they pose a constant threat to the top of the Big Ten.
These teams met 187 times, but 13 games were canceled due to recruiting violations by both teams in the 1990s and early 2000s. These games included seven Wolverines and six Buckeyes wins.
Face-to-face: Kentucky leads 37-17
For much of the 20th century, this rivalry was little more than an occasional clash between schools in Kentucky. However, a 1983 reunion of these teams at the NCAA Tournament has resulted in a match-up tradition every year since.
The stakes only rose when Rick Pitino, Wildcats head coach from 1989-97, took over the Cardinals in 2001. Both schools won national championships under Pitino, but Louisville’s 2013 title was ultimately vacated. after reports of a sex scandal involving recruits. came to light.
The history of this rivalry is also marked by primetime matchups, including a 2012 meeting between the two Kentucky schools in the Final Four, with the Wildcats getting the better of the Cardinals en route to a national championship.
Face-to-face: Cincinnati leads 51-38
Dubbed the Crosstown Shootout, these two schools make UNC-Duke look like a long-distance relationship.
With less than three miles separating the two campuses, this showdown takes the hometown rivalry to another level. ESPN’s Jay Bilas said it best when he described the match as a display of “pure and simple passion and civic division”.
That passion and division was on full display in 2011, when the teams got into a fight to clear the bench. With 9.4 seconds remaining, the Musketeers had a comfortable 23-point victory in their pocket, but the intense competitiveness between the teams remained. A bit of conversation between Cincy’s Ge’Lawn Guyn and Xavier’s Tu Holloway quickly turned into a fight that resulted in an immediate end to the game and the ejection of three players.
A decade later, fans of the rivalry have shown goodwill amid the COVID-19 pandemic and got creative in fostering that competitive energy — the Crosstown pipe. A $1,000 tip on a $54 take-out order accompanied by the words “Come on Xavier!” quickly turned into a competition to see who could leave the biggest tip. Cincinnati-area restaurants subsequently awarded numerous tips in the $100 and $1,000 ranges to the rivalry.
Face-to-face: Purdue leads 124-90
Where else would a basketball rivalry emerge but the Hoosier State?
While Indiana has more material with five NCAA championships against Purdue’s zero, the Boilermakers continue to have their number in the head-to-head game, and their luck is unlikely to change this season. .
IU, currently sitting in the bottom half of the Big Ten, is set to finish his regular season in West Lafayette against the No. 4-ranked Boilermakers, led by rookie Jaden Ivey, on March 5.
UConn-Notre Dame/Tennessee (Women)
Face-to-face: UConn leads Tennessee 16-9 and Notre Dame 39-13
I could probably write an entire article about the number of rivals UConn head coach Geno Auriemma has amassed in his 37 years with the Huskies, but to save time I’ll stick to Pat Summitt and Muffet McGraw.
By the time of his retirement in 2012, Summitt had won 1,098 games, the most of any college basketball coach. She has since been passed by two female coaches and three male coaches, including Coach K, the all-time leader. However, the Volunteers head coach was quick to voice his distaste for UConn and Auriemma in particular, ultimately choosing to cancel the annual game between those teams after accusing Auriemma of poor recruiting practices.
Meanwhile, the Irish make the cut based on recency bias. Over the past decade, UConn has lost just 15 times, including seven against Notre Dame. The Irish also hold a 4-3 record against the Huskies in the NCAA Tournament over the past 10 seasons.
UConn remains the top dog, but Auriemma likely breathed a sigh of relief when McGraw hung up his heels in 2020.
Face-to-face: Gonzaga leads 73-31
The Zags are the undisputed kings of the WCC, but every now and then they meet their match at Saint Mary’s.
The Bulldogs hold a record 27 West Coast Conference championship appearances – 19 wins and eight losses. Meanwhile, the Gaels are the only other team to earn double-digit Championship appearances, with four wins and nine losses.
Their rivalry rivals the best on the entire West Coast.
Face-to-face: Kansas leads 202-94
Dubbed the Sunflower Showdown, this intra-state match is played with the best of them. Much like the IU-Purdue rivalry, a basketball-mad state continued to rally around its two biggest schools as they battled it out on the hardwood.
This rivalry, which was first contested in 1907, culminated in the 1950s when the two teams established themselves as perennial contenders on the national stage. During the second half of the 20th century, the Wildcats struggled to keep up, eventually giving up 31 straight games to the Jayhawks from 1994 to 2005. Although Kansas historically owns the series, the Wildcats have put the rivalry back on the map these last years. as a consistent top-25 program.
Michigan-State of Michigan
Face-to-face: Michigan leads 95-87 (not including seven Michigan wins vacated due to recruiting violations)
Michigan enjoyed long winning streaks throughout the first half of this rivalry, but recent history belongs to Tom Izzo and the Spartans. While some of Michigan’s vacated wins came early in Izzo’s tenure as head coach, he currently holds a 31-14 advantage over the Wolverines.
The rivalry is even at the center of one of the biggest recruiting scandals in NCAA history. During an official recruiting visit with the Wolverines, Mateen Cleaves and then-Michigan player Maurice Taylor were involved in a car crash that opened Pandora’s box and exposed the complex web of recruiting violations by the Ed Martin booster and the Michigan basketball program. Cleaves, a native of Flint, Michigan, eventually made it to Michigan State and was even drafted by the Pistons in 2000.
Face-to-face: Penn leads 126-113
Harvard and Yale might dominate the Ivy League today, but Penn and Princeton remain the original juggernauts. They have won 19 of the first 20 Ivy League championships, with Cornell being the only exception after winning the inaugural title in 1988.