A rivalry is usually thought of as two teams who strongly dislike each other and have a long standing history with one another. They also consist of additional pressure, excitement and support than the average game.
Some of the most popular and oldest sports rivalries are between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees (2,118 meetings since 1901), Green Bay Packers versus the Chicago Bears (186 meetings since 1921) and the Duke Blue Devils against the North Carolina Tar Heels (235 meetings since 1920).
The most unique and exciting part of a rivalry is the idea that both teams have a legitimate chance at winning the game despite the talent or recent success of a team. All of the statistics and the strategies are thrown out the window. When it comes down to rivalry games, all that matters is who has the strongest passion and will to win.
Rivalries are an intricate and thrilling part of any sport. In fact, they have existed in sports since the 19th century. When you think of memorable sports moments, nearly all of those games or matches are renown rivalries and are known for their remarkable history rather than their latest meeting.
In this past week, college basketball saw a multitude of rivalry games ranging from Duke and North Carolina in the “Tobacco Road” rivalry game and the final rivalry game between the Syracuse Orange the Connecticut Huskies before they separated from the Big East conference.
One common theme that ran throughout all of the rivalry games this week was the increase in intensity and passion. Whether the teams were separated by only a few miles or by a few states, rivalry games are always the one or two games circled on a team’s schedule when the season begins.
From the in-state rivalry in Kansas to Michigan to North Carolina, there wasn’t an individual factor that predicted the winner. However, it seems as if home court advantage takes on a whole new meaning for games of this multitude. Ironically, that home court advantage barely qualifies due to the fact that the two schools are only separated by a short bus ride.
If there is one thing to remember about rivalries, it is that they are completely unpredictable. A game that is usually a blowout can dramatically be changed by simply being a rivalry game. In college basketball, where every game truly matters, these rivalries become increasingly important and could be the deciding factor in whether or not a team will win their conference championship.