15 Best College Basketball Rivalries | 2025 Ranking

People love college sports because they have a long and rich history. In college sports, rivalries are probably the best part. These games are as heated as it gets because the schools, teams, and fans hate each other so much.

This is a rivalry that goes beyond just one game. All through the year, these colleges and universities naturally dislike and dislike each other.

Some college sports rivalries are popular for their heated history in just one sport. Others have grown to include more than one sport. In college basketball, some rivalries stand out.

This article aims to give you the best college basketball rivalries, as well as other important information. Let’s dive right in.

How Important are College Basketball Rivalries?

In sports, it’s very important to have a rival for several reasons. A rival can bring out the best in you, push you to your limits, make you a better athlete, and set (and keep raising) the bar for you to jump over. Rivalries can be either very mean or very nice.

No matter what sport they do, every athlete needs someone to compete against. It shows how serious competition is and, most importantly, how important respect is. A rival is someone you try to beat or at least be on the same level as in the same field of work.

The best college basketball rivalries can be between teammates or opponents. It’s a blessing to have a teammate who is also a rival.

Each person working to see how better they can outdo the other person. The well-known college basketball rivalries are important in every game and help with the success of a team.

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Here are the 15 Best College Basketball Rivalries in 2025

#1. Villanova—La Salle

The Big 5 games in Philadelphia between Villanova, La Salle, Penn, St. Joseph’s, and Temple are some of the most important non-conference rivalries in college basketball. The Villanova Wildcats and the La Salle Explorers will give them a good chance of putting in two Top 25 teams this year.

Last year, La Salle’s Tyreek Duren hit a long three-pointer to send the game into overtime. In the last few seconds of overtime, he drove to the basket and scored the winning point. That’s the kind of competitive game that Philly fans get to see a lot in the Big 5.

With Duren and Nova’s Ryan Arcidiacono both back for 2013-14, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see another burst of late-game heroics. This is one of the best college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

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#2. UConn – Syracuse

Jim Calhoun spent 25 years building up the UConn program. In that time, he got the team to sixth place on the list of all-time wins.

For all 24 years he coached the Huskies, he had to go up against Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, who is now second on that list.

Calhoun’s retirement and Syracuse’s move to the ACC cost the Huskies and Orange a few spots in these rankings.

However, they have too much history to get left out. In their last Big East season, it was too bad that they only got to play each other once.

In Storrs, UConn beat No. 6 Syracuse, 66-58, when neither team got ranked. This is one of the best college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

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#3. Kansas—Missouri

Since Missouri is no longer in the Big 12, nobody knows when the Border War will start up again. Even so, the Missouri Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks are on this list because they used to be the two best teams in the Big 8.

Mizzou’s legendary coach, Norm Stewart, wouldn’t buy gas for the team bus in Kansas because the tax money would go to the Jayhawks. The players took the court with the same level of intensity.

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The last time they played was in February 2012, when Tyshawn Taylor’s free throws helped No. 5 Kansas beat No. 3 Missouri 87-86 in overtime in Lawrence. This is one of the best college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

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#4. Indiana—Kentucky

The Indiana Hoosiers vs. Kentucky Wildcats matchup has been going on for more than 40 years. However, it’s in limbo right now because of disagreements about where to play the games. It also has an advantage over the other team because it has won 13 national titles.

On top of that, the last regular-season game between these two teams was one of the most memorable games of this century. Christian Watford’s three-pointer at the buzzer gave Kentucky its first loss of the 2011-12 season, which it went on to win.

Every season that goes by without a game between these two all-time great teams is a loss for college basketball. This is one of the well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

#5. Michigan—Michigan State

In March, Michigan almost took a page out of the Michigan State Spartans’ playbook. Fans in East Lansing are very familiar with riding a superstar point guard to a national title, and Michigan almost did the same thing.

Trey Burke had Michigan State on his Wooden Award highlight reel. Mostly because he stole the ball late in the game and scored to save a 58-57 win in Ann Arbor over the Spartans.

After a long slump, the Michigan Wolverines are now fighting for the top spot in the national rankings. This makes the games between them and Tom Izzo’s perennial title contenders a lot more exciting.

These teams have a lot of history going back 50 years to players like Cazzie Russell and Johnny Green.

It’s good for Big Ten basketball to see them at the top of their games again. Michigan-Michigan State is one of the best college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

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#6. Duke—Maryland

The rivalry between the Maryland Terrapins and the Duke Blue Devils is another thing that will end because of realignment. This season will be the last time the two teams play in the same conference before Maryland moves to the Big Ten.

This means that 2013-2014 is the last chance for the two teams to have a season like 2000-2001. This was when they played each other four times.

Twice in the regular season, once in the semifinals of the ACC tournament, and once in the Final Four. There, the Duke beat the Terps for the third time. (provigil)

One of those wins, though, came after Duke made up a 10-point deficit in 54 seconds. This was a painful memory for Maryland fans, but their team’s only national title a year later erased it.

The 2012-13 Terps didn’t live up to that standard, but they did beat then-No. 2 Duke in College Park by a score of 83-81, which was their biggest win of the year. The Duke- Maryland game is one of the best college basketball rivalries fans love to see

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#7. Michigan vs. Ohio State

In college sports, there’s no better feeling than putting an end to a rival’s perfect season. The Ohio State Buckeyes knew this when Michigan was the only unbeaten team left in the country in January. It is one of the well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see

OSU took a big lead in the first half and held on to win 56-53. A month later, Trey Burke and the rest of his team went to Ann Arbor and beat OSU in overtime. Both teams are in the running for the national championship, so there has never been a better time to watch this game.

Fittingly, the two coaches who got them to this point have styles that couldn’t be more different. Thad Matta’s defense and John Beilein’s offense should be mainstays in the Big Ten for years to come.

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#8. Syracuse – Georgetown

The Orange and the Georgetown Hoyas had one of the most heated rivalries in college basketball. With the end of the old Big East, they won’t be able to play against each other anymore.

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Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone has now gone up against two generations of big men like John Thompson, from Patrick Ewing to Roy Hibbert, and the big men who play with them.

When these two teams meet again, they will likely both still be in the Top 25. This is one of the well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

#9. Kentucky—Florida

This rivalry went to the top of the SEC list when Billy Donovan moved to Gainesville. During their two national title runs, the Florida Gators were the best team in their conference because of their powerful coach.

But when John Calipari got to Lexington, the UK was back on top again. The last time these two teams played, Nerlens Noel hurt his knee and had to miss the rest of the season.

However, next year’s games should be some of the most important in the country. Since both teams have a good chance of being in the top five when conference play starts. This is one of the well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

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#10. Indiana—Purdue

In the history of the Indiana Hoosiers and the Purdue Boilermakers, 2012-2013 was one of the few boring years. This was because the best IU team of this century played against a bad Purdue team that lost both games by 30 points. This is one of the well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see

In the Big Ten’s history, though, there has never been a better rivalry than the one that led to Bobby Knight’s most famous meltdown during a game. Knight’s famous chair throw became a symbol not only of his bad temper. This got him fired from his job in Bloomington.

In addition to affecting the Big Ten standings, the winner of this game every year has a chance to score points. This is because both schools try to get the best players from the same state.

#11. Georgetown- Villanova

The new Big East exists to keep rivalries like the one between the Hoyas and the Wildcats alive.

Georgetown and Villanova, two of the league’s original Catholic programs that are now the best, have shown that a school doesn’t need to play FBS football to have a nationally known basketball team. Georgetown-Villanova is one of the well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

Even though these two teams have played many hard-fought regular-season games, it is one legendary postseason game that makes this rivalry stand out. Patrick Ewing’s 1984-85 Hoyas beat ‘Nova every time they played during the regular season.

However, when they met again in the national championship game, the eighth-seeded Wildcats beat the top-ranked Hoyas to become the greatest underdog winner in history.

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#12. UCLA—Arizona

Since John Wooden’s time, the Bruins have been one of the best teams in the Pac-12, and Arizona hasn’t been too far behind since it joined the conference. In 22 of the last 30 years, one of these schools has won the regular season or tournament title for its conference.

In March, Kyle Anderson’s late putback knocked the Wildcats out of the Pac-12 tournament. This gave UCLA a season sweep, but it also cost them Jordan Adams and their chances of making the NCAA tournament.

This year, Arizona is the clear favorite to win the league championship. However, Adams, Anderson, and the UCLA Bruins are among the teams most likely to stop them. This is one of the well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

#13. Kansas—Kansas State

One of the best things to happen to the Big 12 in recent years is that the Wildcats are back in the running for a national title.

With the help of Frank Martin and Bruce Weber, K-State has become a serious threat to Kansas’s hold on the league.

Last year, the hated Wildcats had to share the conference title with the Jayhawks. The Jayhawks barely beat the Wildcats in Manhattan, 59-55.

Even Wilt Chamberlain got worried about the Sunflower Showdown. A year after playing in the national championship game, his Kansas team in 1957–58 finished second in the conference.

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They were behind Bob Boozer and Kansas State. Even though the Jayhawks have played college basketball for 106 years, they still can’t scare their opponents from the same state.

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#14. Louisville—Kentucky

The two teams that have won the last two national championships both come from the same state and hate each other very much. The UK beat Louisville twice on its way to the 2012 title.

This includes a rare rematch in the Final Four that made Louisville the first team in that year’s Big Dance to get within 10 points of Kentucky.

Since they started playing regularly in the mid-1980s, the Wildcats and Cardinals have won five national titles between them.

That number could easily go up to six in 2013–14 when they’ll be the top two teams in the preseason polls. Kentucky will be out for revenge after losing 80–77 in December. It is one of the well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see.

#15. Duke-North Carolina

Duke-UNC is close to being one of the best rivalries in any sport. This is one of the best college basketball rivalries fans love to see. This is both because of how crazy the fans of both teams are and because of how good they are.

When these two teams play together, it’s clear why they’ve won a total of nine national titles and sent 137 players to the pros.

North Carolina was the only team that came close to beating the Blue Devils in front of the Cameron Crazies last year. Even so, the teams’ two meetings didn’t change much about who won the ACC title.

That should change in 2013–14 when both the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke University Dukies will be in the thick of the conference race. In other words, it will be business as usual on Tobacco Road. Duke-North Carolina is one of the best college basketball rivalries fans love to see

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the two players whose rivalry is the best in NBA history?

Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson.
Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain.
Isiah Thomas vs. Larry Bird.
LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant.
Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O’Neal.
Isiah Thomas vs. Michael Jordan.
Russell Westbrook vs. Patrick Beverley.
Kevin Garnett vs. Tim Duncan.

What is the most important basketball rivalry in the NCAA?

Villanova and La Salle compete to be the best college basketball team in the bluegrass state. This is one of the biggest rivalries in college basketball. Both teams are always among the best in the country, which makes the rivalry even worse.

What is the best sports rivalry?

In sports history, the best rivalries are:
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
Ohio State vs. Michigan
Duke vs. North Carolina
Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

Who do the Lakers play against the most?

The Celtics of Boston. The Celtics and the Lakers are two teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) that don’t like each other. The Celtics and the Lakers are two of the NBA’s most famous teams. Their rivalry is often called the best in the league.

Are the Knicks and Lakers competitors?

We know a lot about the history between teams like the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks. This shows how important rivalries are in this league and how important it is to have them.

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Conclusion

Great college basketball rivalries bring out the best in top teams and the loudest in their most devoted fans. This is the subject in the best college basketball rivalries fans love to see.  When your school plays its biggest rival, you know it will be one of the biggest and most likely ones of the best games of the season.

The two games that Florida plays against the Kentucky Wildcats every year have turned into a first-class rivalry. The well-known college basketball rivalries fans love to see are important for every team.

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