Greatest Rivalries in Sports

The other day I saw a poll on SportsCenter about the greatest rivalries in sports. After pondering it over for a couple of minutes, I decided it was time to weigh in on the topic myself. I took what I believe to be the greatest rivalry in each of six most popular sports in the United States (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA basketball, NCAA football) and ranked them in order to determine the best rivalry in sports.

6. Michigan vs. Ohio State

michigan vs. ohio state

The Michigan-Ohio State college football rivalry dates all the way back to 1897. The two programs have combined for over 1700 wins, 76 Big Ten titles, 10 Heisman Trophy winners, and 18 national titles. The most famous moment in the rivalry was the “Game of the Century” in 2006. Both teams were ranked #1 and #2 and were both 11-0 heading into the matchup, an epic game which Ohio State won 42-39. Michigan leads the all time series 58-44-6.

5. Duke vs. North Carolina

duke vs unc

The UNC-Duke college basketball rivalry dates back to 1920. At least one of the teams has been ranked in the Top 25 in the country the last 129 meetings between them. They have combined for 33 Final Fours and 9 NCAA championships. On March 4, 2006 #13 North Carolina beat #1 Duke in the most watched college basketball game in ESPN history. The teams’ recent success include a championship for North Carolina in 2009 followed by a championship for Duke in 2010.

4. Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

bruins canadiens

The Bruins and Canadiens first met in 1924 and have played nearly 900 times since then. The two have also met in the postseason 33 times and combined for 30 Stanley Cup Championships. The most recent highlight of the series was the Bruins winning Game 7 in overtime of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals en route to the Stanley Cup Championship.

3. New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts

patriots colts

The Patriots-Colts rivalry is the shortest out of all the rivalries, but also maybe the most high quality rivalry the sports world has ever seen. Led by two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, the Patriots and Colts combined for 7 Super Bowl appearances and 4 championships in a span of 11 years. They consistently cranked out 12, 13, 14 win seasons and won their division every single year. In a league with so much parity, for two teams to dominate like this for a decade was simply unheard of. The highlight of the rivalry was in 2007 when the undefeated Patriots came from behind in the 4th quarter to knock off the undefeated Colts en route to a 16-0 season.

2. Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

red sox yankees

Perhaps the most bitter and famous rivalry of all, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees faced off for the first time in 1901. Red Sox-Yankees games are consistently the highest rated games in the MLB each year. Since the Wild Card format of the postseason, one or both of the teams have made the playoffs every single year. The teams have combined for 34 World Series Championships overall and consistently dominate the American League East as well as the payroll. The most famous moment in the series was when the Red Sox came back from down 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS to beat the Yankees and end the 86 year curse with a World Series Championship.

1. Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

celtics lakers

The Celtics-Lakers rivalry was introduced in 1948. The two franchises instantly involved into dynasties and faced off against each other frequently over the next several decades. The have met in the NBA Finals 12 times, the most between any two teams in NBA history. Together, the Celtics and Lakers have combined 33 NBA championships in the 66 year history of the NBA. From Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell to Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird to Paul Pierce vs. Kobe Bryant, the Celtics and Lakers have never failed to produce exciting matchups.

So that is my definitive list of the greatest rivalries in American sports. Let me know what you guys thought in the comments down below. Please like the post if you enjoyed reading and share my blog on social media.




About Pierro Perspective

Die hard Boston sports fan
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One Response to Greatest Rivalries in Sports

  1. I would put the Sox/Yankees rivalry above the Celtics/Lakers. As a long time Boston fan, I think the Yankees rivalry is more emotional and more bitter. I watched a lot of Celtics in the 80’s when the Lakers rivalry was at its peak, but the Celtics had a lot of success which made the rivalry easier to swallow. There is nothing like 17 championships to ease the pain.

    However with the Sox we had the curse of 86 years without a championship. For me that made the Yankees’ wins even harder to bear. Since 2004 I feel less bitter toward the Yankees but I still think the New York rivalry will always be there.

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