It’s Rivalry Saturday in college hoops.

OK, so it might not “officially” be Rivalry Saturday, but with UNC-Duke and Purdue-Indiana showdowns, it certainly feels like a major day for bragging rights.

It got us thinking about the top rivalries in college sports. That shouldn’t be limited to 1 region, nor should it be limited to 1 sport.

That’s why our team of writers, Derek Peterson, Brett Friedlander, Alex Hickey and I decided to come up with a current ranking. We settled on 25, though we’re obviously well aware that there are far more than 25 heated rivalries in college sports. Historical and current context matter.

Here are our top 25 rivalries:

25. Minnesota-Wisconsin

The only time the Gophers and Badgers haven’t played since 1890 was in 1906, by order of President Theodore Roosevelt. That’s a rivalry. After 132 meetings, the football series is dead even at 62-62-8. And the rivalry is perhaps even stronger in both men’s and women’s hockey, where both schools are traditional national powers. — Alex Hickey, columnist for Saturday Tradition

24. Texas-Texas A&M

We’re hanging on by a thread here because of a decade-long beef that started because of hurt feelings over realignment. But this rivalry continued by way of passive aggressive comments from athletic directors and trolling poop buckets. They’ll be rekindling the old flame when Texas joins the SEC, which feels right after playing every year from 1915-2011. — Connor O’Gara, columnist for Saturday Down South


The Battle for Los Angeles, the Crosstown Showdown, whatever you want to call it, these two have been playing since 1929. UCLA actually didn’t score a point in the series until three years into it, getting outscored 128-0 in the first two meetings. The Bruins won 8 in a row from 1991-98, then the Trojans won 12 of the next 13, and it’s been back and forth since. — Derek Peterson, site leader for Saturday Out West

22. Missouri-Kansas

Most rivalries are quaint compared to this, which is the only one that features fans who brag about burning down the other school’s town. Literally. Missourians and Kansans have generations of mutual disdain going back to the decade before the Civil War, which got a sneak preview when they battled each other. Their breakup was the biggest loss in Mizzou’s move to the SEC, but the football series will finally be renewed in the coming decade. — Alex Hickey

21. BYU-Utah

The Holy War is the best rivalry name out there. Again, pure hatred. Both teams played in the same conference from 1922 to 2010, and in the Mountain West days it was regularly a decisive force in the conference title race. The programs can’t even agree on when the series officially began. Utah claims it was 1896. BYU, which went by Brigham Young Academy at that time, lists the official first meeting in 1922. — Derek Peterson

20. Oregon-Washington

The Civil War (though it’s not called that anymore) is likely the first “rivalry” that jumps to mind when folks think about Oregon, but the Ducks have completely dominated that series since 1975 with a 35-12-1 record. No, the thing that makes rivalries is hatred, and the hatred between the Ducks and the Huskies is red-hot. The fan bases don’t like each other. The programs don’t like each other. Every coach enters the year knowing that’s the game they have to win. — Derek Peterson

19. Pitt-West Virginia

“The Backyard Brawl” says it all. And the city vs. country angle makes this unique among rivalries. As much as Pitt would like Penn State to be its primary rival, the Mountaineers are actually willing to return fire. Their 2022 renewal after a decade apart was one of the games of the year in college football, and a reminder of what makes the sport great after an offseason in which things continued to move away from tradition. — Alex Hickey

18. Mississippi State-Ole Miss

If you don’t understand why these teams play in a football rivalry called “The Egg Bowl,” here’s your rundown. Back in the 1920s, the postgame fights between these 2 fan bases became so heated that school officials put their heads together to hand out “The Golden Egg” in an attempt to curb the violence. So yeah, between that, the fact that this is the only game that’s played on Thanksgiving and the recent fake dog pee celebrations heard ’round the world, the battle in the Magnolia State is as wonderful as it gets. — Connor O’Gara

17. Virginia-Virginia Tech

The Hokies and Cavaliers are like oil and water whenever they meet on the field of competition, especially in football. Things have only heated up more since UVA broke its 15-game losing streak in the Commonwealth Cup competition in 2019. But as contentious as their rivalry is when they play, the schools and fan bases have also shown remarkable compassion toward one another during times of trouble — following a mass shooting on Tech’s campus in 2007 and again last December after 3 UVA football players were killed by a classmate after a school-sponsored field trip. — Brett Friedlander, columnist for Saturday Road

16. Stanford-Cal

“The band is on the field!” Stanford vs. Cal. Private vs. public. The two NoCal universities could be slogging through a miserable season (like 2022) and send one fan base home jubilant with a win in the Big Game. It’s a rivalry that produced what many believe to be the single greatest game in college football history: a 1982 meeting that ended with a game-winning kickoff return for a touchdown that included 5 laterals and Kevin Moen running through Stanford’s band to find the end zone. — Derek Peterson

15. NC State-UNC

Wolfpack fans have such a dislike for the Tar Heels that they take almost as much pleasure from seeing the boys in baby blue encounter misfortune as they do celebrating their own team’s victories. While State clearly takes this rivalry far more seriously than UNC, don’t buy it when they try to taunt the Wolfpack with chants of “Not our rival!” — Brett Friedlander

14. Indiana-Purdue

How hot is this rivalry? Bob Knight’s infamous leaked speech was before the Hoosiers played Purdue. Google it, but don’t listen to it at work. Or around children. The differing personalities of the student bodies contribute to this rivalry as much as proximity does. Purdue is known for engineering and agriculture. Indiana has renowned schools for music and media. In many ways Hoosiers vs. Boilermakers can be a battle of Left Brain vs. Right Brain. — Alex Hickey

13. Clemson-South Carolina

This isn’t as high-profile as some of the other in-state rivalries around the country. And it doesn’t get the attention it probably deserves because it’s been so one-sided lately. But the Palmetto Bowl is every bit as intense as the Iron Bowl, Border War, Mayhem or any other football turf war. It isn’t just a battle that’s fought the week before the big game. The battle between the Tigers and Gamecocks rages the entire year ’round and has been known to define relationships and divide families. — Brett Friedlander

12. Alabama-LSU

Here’s a question — how many of these rivalries involve the best coach in the sport’s history crossing enemy lines? Sure, Nick Saban had the Miami Dolphins deal squeezed in there, but the hate that LSU fans have for him is unmatched. These 2 teams accounted for a combined 9 national titles in the 21st century. It always feels like that’s on the line when they face off. The hoops element was also cranked up a notch after Nate Oats delivered a NSFW message to LSU post-SEC Championship. The only reason this isn’t even higher is because Alabama has bigger rivals. — Connor O’Gara

11. Kentucky-Louisville

An elite battle of the blue-bloods, this is. You could make a strong argument that Duke-UNC is the only hoops rivalry that’s better. They’ve been facing off annually for the past 40 years despite the fact that Louisville bounced around several conferences. They have 3 titles apiece since 1980, though as UK fans would point out, Louisville was forced to vacate its 2013 crown. That was a year after the teams met in the Final Four, which UK won en route to a national title. Even though the 2 squads are by no means at the peak of their powers currently, it’s still been must-watch every late-December/early-January. — Connor O’Gara

10. Florida-Florida State

It’s a nonconference rivalry, but it sure as heck doesn’t feel like one. This rivalry peaked with Steve Spurrier and Bobby Bowden in the 1990s, wherein half of the national championships involved the winner of this game. I don’t know that we’ll ever see a decade-long stretch like that with nothing but top-10 matchups, especially late in the season. That included Florida’s rematch rout of FSU in the Sugar Bowl to take home its first national title in 1996. While this rivalry isn’t what it once was, it still had at least 1 ranked team all but 3 times that they played in the 21st century. — Connor O’Gara

9. Alabama-Tennessee

Any rivalry that calls for an entire stadium to be filled with postgame cigar smoke is good in my book. Through that cloud of smoke, we saw goalposts being thrown into the river, trolling postgame music (having Dixieland Delight ready within seconds of that game ending was unbelievable). Of course before that, Alabama dominated The Third Saturday of October in a way that nobody ever has. Since it began in 1901, this rivalry has been wildly streaky. Alabama and Tennessee have a combined total of 5 different win streaks that lasted at least 7 years, including the record-long 15-year win streak that Alabama finally saw come to an end in Rocky Top in 2022. — Connor O’Gara

8. Michigan-Michigan State

As we saw last football season, this rivalry can get downright dangerous. Michigan treats Michigan State as an inferior rather than an equal, and it creates understandable resentment from the Spartans. — Alex Hickey

7. USC-Notre Dame

Weird rivalry if you think about it in a geographic sense — one school in Indiana and the other in Southern California — but from a football standpoint, it’s the perfect rivalry. They first met in 1926 and, save for a 3-year stretch during World War II and 2020, they’ve played every year since. Notre Dame holds the all-time lead 48-37-5 in a series that has often held national implications. Remember the Bush Push? National title teams and Heisman Trophy winners star in this game. — Derek Peterson

6. Florida-Georgia

Steve Spurrier, Vince Dooley, Urban Meyer, Kirby Smart … look at these iconic coaches this rivalry has given us in the past 40 years. Should it be played on campuses? Eh, playing in Jacksonville is one of the things that makes this rivalry unique. We’ve had “Run Lindsay Run” and “Half a hundred between the hedges.” Since 1980, 35 of 43 meetings involved at least 1 top-10 team, including 7 matchups in which both teams were ranked in the top 10. Both programs now have multiple national titles in the 21st century, which was why the 1980 jokes came to an end. The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party blessed us all with some premier SEC football over the years. — Connor O’Gara

5. Oklahoma-Texas

The Red River Showdown has immense history dating to the start of the 20th century. Since 1934, these powerhouse programs battled on the second Saturday of October, oftentimes with national title implications. Since 1945, they had 56 instances in which at least 1 team was ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll at the time of the matchup. Whether you call it the “Red River Shootout” or the “Red River Rivalry,” the neutral-site showdown in Dallas has been an annual staple since 1929. These teams made sure to stick together during several different points in conference realignment in the past 3 decades, including most recently with their jump to the SEC. — Connor O’Gara

4. Army-Navy

There is no pageantry quite like Army-Navy. It feels like you’re stepping back in time, and not just because forward passes are often nowhere to be found. They say that The Masters is “A tradition unlike any other.” I’d say if there’s ever a game that could steal that phrase, it’s Army-Navy. They met every year since 1930 and they only missed 5 meetings since they first started facing off in organized football in 1890. A rivalry that dates to the Benjamin Harrison administration with triple options and minimal scoring is as unique as it gets in the modern era. — Connor O’Gara

3. Alabama-Auburn

They poisoned trees. Iconic trees. Trees that mean more to a fan base than I think any of us will ever understand. The Iron Bowl doesn’t just have an iconic name in the land where “It Just Means More.” Between the “Kick-6,” the “Cam-back” and “Bo over the top,” the Iron Bowl produced some of the sport’s most iconic moments. How important is this rivalry? From 2009-18, 9 of the 10 national championships involved one of these teams. And yes, 2 of those belonged to Auburn. Anybody in that state will tell you it’s the best rivalry in sports. — Connor O’Gara

2. Michigan-Ohio State

Most great rivalries are of the in-state variety. The thing that makes this one great is that it isn’t. There’s a special kind of contempt that can only be formed by crossing borders. And there’s a level of obsession here no other rivalry can match. Woody Hayes refusing to buy gas in Michigan. Ohio State students X’ing out all of the “Ms” on campus signs during game week. Calling Michigan “TTUN (The Team Up North)” instead of, you know, Michigan. There’s a reason these 2 have run the Big Ten for decades — they’re always trying to top each other, and no one can catch them. — Alex Hickey

1. Duke-UNC

They play for the Victory Bell in football, but their battles on the basketball court are what sets the Battle of the Blues apart. Sure, it’s the most overhyped rivalry since Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader first locked light sabres, especially now that their version of Luke and Darth (which is which depends on your favored shade of blue) have ridden off into the sunset. But the Tar Heels and Blue Devils have provided some of the most iconic moments in college basketball history. From 1980-present, at least one of them was ranked in the top 10 at tipoff 88 times — and 37 times both were in the top 10. As their epic Final Four showdown last year verified, their games rarely fail to deliver. — Brett Friedlander