Which rivalries are top of the list?

There a ton of rivalries in sports, across all leagues. But which teams haves the number one rivalry? UNC vs Duke tipped off last night and is definitely among the top, but which rivalry truly is the best? The ones that top the list for me, in no particular order, are: Red Sox vs. Yankees, Ohio State vs. Michigan, All Original 6 teams, Capitals vs. Penguins, Duke vs. UNC, All Beanpot teams, Alabama vs. Auburn, All sports LA vs. Boston, Bears vs. Packers and, last but not least, the Patriots vs. Everyone.

UNC vs. Duke

This rivalry is one of the top rivalries in sports, but it is not the “Greatest Rivalry” in sports. Meeting for nearly 100 years, Jan 24, 2020 marks exactly 100 years of this rivalry. It’s definitely the greatest college basketball rivalry of all time. That should be where the argument ends. Throughout history, both teams have been classified as the most dominant teams in college basketball, and rightfully so, with battles for the ACC conference going back and forth between these two. With two regular season games, and a likely matchup in the ACC tournament each year, getting a chance to view them can be nothing short of spectacular. The two mindsets, the 9.5 mile separation on Tobacco Road, and the heated competition put it at the top of college basketball’s rivalries.

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Ohio State vs. Michigan

When it comes to the argument of the top rivalry in college sports, I believe it comes down to UNC vs. Duke and Ohio State vs. Michigan. The hatred between OSU and Michigan on the gridiron stems back to 1897 and they have played annually since 1918. These two teams have battled for conference championships 22 times between themselves, and another 27 times for the conference leader. In my mind, it’s tough to give an upper hand to either rivalry because I believe that they are equally as elite to the top of their respective college sport.

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Other College Teams

The other college teams that put up an argument are

  • Alabama vs. Auburn (College Football)
  • The Beanpot teams (College Hockey)
  • Clemson vs. Alabama (College Football)
  • Florida State vs. Florida (All Sports)
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  • Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (All Sports)
  • Michigan vs. Michigan St. (All Sports)
  • Essentially all in-state battles contain huge rivalries

NFL Rivals

Among the NFL teams, rivalries are very prevalent as well. The NFL vs. Patriots has been the latest saga, with every team using the Pats as a target on their schedule to dethrone the Champs. Inter-conference games in the NFL have proved to be the biggest rivalry match ups whether it be the Pats and the Jets, Da Bears and the Packers or the Giants and Them Cowboys. The highest ranking in my mind are the Bears and the Packers — two teams who are nitty gritty and seem to get down to business every time they take the field against each other.

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NHL Rivals

When it comes to the NHL I believe the rivalries run deep between the working class teams. Sure the Capitals and the Penguins have pushed the tapes with quite a showing for their rivalry — the two battle for the Cup year after year. The best and most passionate rivalries come from the Original Six. The B’s, Habs, Leafs, Wings, Rangers, and Blackhawks. Whether it be the B’s and the Habs, the Habs and the Leafs, The Wings and the Leafs or the Rangers vs, all the above. Being the first six teams, they battled head-to-head often and those rivalries have carried on for years to bless the Diehards. My top pick, which is definitely a bias, is watching a Bruins and Canadiens game. It will keep me on the edge of my seat, or on my feet for the entire game.  There’s never a dull moment between those two.

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There are plenty of rivalries in the NBA , the Warriors and the Cavs being the latest and greatest. But with LeBron shipping out and the whole Cavs organization in a fumble of players, the rivalry has lost it’s pulse. The top rivalry in the NBA’s history has to be the Celtics and the Lakers. Being two of the most dominant organizations in the NBA since it’s creation, these two teams have faced off in the NBA finals 12 times. These two teams not only have a rivalry in current day, but have been at it since the beginning.

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I saved the MLB for last with there being so many great rivalries on the diamond. Whether it be the Dodgers and Giants, both formerly of NY, the Cubs and the Cardinals or the Braves and Mets, no other Rivalry can compete with the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry. A heated rivalry since 1902, both teams have dominated the league for years, but have also had their droughts. One thing has stayed true throughout their contests over the years, however. Every time they face off there is not an empty seat in either stadium. Whether it be the 1910’s when the Sox were the rulers, or the 86 years where the Sox went ringless, the battles have always had historic moments.

Red Sox vs. Yankees

I know, I already started talking about the rivalry above, but to me this rivalry deserves its own section. This rivalry has been with me since birth and since that day I have, and always will be, a Red Sox fan. I cannot say I remember the 1999 series, or that I truly remember all the details of the ’03 season, but one thing I will never forget is the excitement that filled my house on that cold October night in ’04, when the Red Sox shocked the world. Being down 0-3 to the Yankees, and coming back to win, and then to go on to St. Louis and sweep, now that was something special. It woke the spirits up back home at Fenway, who had been seized in the Curse of the Bambino. The curse was reversed, but that was just a small page in the gigantic history book between these two.

The rivalry was top notch for the years to follow with blowback pitches, exchanges of words, and devastating trades like Johnny Damon and Jacoby. Then, there appeared to some to be a bit of a lull. I felt the rivalry there always and continued my hatred of the Yankees, but the battles became uneventful for a couple years. Both teams hit some rough patches in the early 2010’s. The rivalry has bounced back to full intensity with Ol’ Joe Kelly slinging and teaching some lessons. The Sox dominated in the regular season, carrying them to first in the East, and then we all watched what happened. The boys rallied together, and defeated those damn Yankees in “New York, New York.” Keep your eyes peeled this upcoming season because the rivalry is only gonna get hotter between these two.


As you have read above, there are some very intense rivalries between teams. Some are long lasting, and some are just beginning. The top dog in my eyes is the Sox vs. Yankees rivalry, “but that’s like just my opinion man.” 

Let me know what you think in the comments below or on social media.

Have a day, and happy Thursday!

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