ESPN has dubbed this week “Rivalry Week” in college basketball, and for good reason. Between Duke-UNC, Michigan-Ohio State, Syracuse-Pitt, and Monday’s Kansas-Kansas State showdown, this week features one of the best slates of games this season.
Rivalries are what fuel college sports, but not all rivalries are equal. Sometimes, the hate between two programs can be spurned on by jealousy because of the dominance of one participant. That is the case with many of the following match-ups. These are the 10 most one-sided big-time rivalries in all of college basketball – for the 21st century.
We’ve included all games since the start of the 2001-2002 season – to keep it simple, we excluded results from the 2000-2001 season.
10.) Ohio State – 16 wins, Michigan – 8 wins
Michigan is experiencing a resurgence over the last two seasons; the Wolverines are atop the Big Ten standings at the moment, and went to the National Championship Game last season. However, Ohio State has been far more consistent over recent history. Since Thad Matta took over the program in 2004, Ohio State has had a winning percentage of .775 overall, with two Final Fours and five first place finishes in the Big Ten.
Michigan, on the other hand, suffered through the Tommy Amaker era from 2001-07, during which the Wolverines were below .500 in conference play. In head-to-head games, the Buckeyes have won two-thirds of the matchups since 2001. John Beilein and Michigan have stolen the last two games from the Buckeyes in the series, so Michigan fans can hold onto hope that momentum is swinging back towards the Wolverines.
9.) Duke – 19, Maryland – 9
There’s a vast difference between how Duke fans and Maryland fans view this rivalry. The Blue Devils have their famed rivalry with North Carolina as their main game every season, so most don’t acknowledge Maryland as a big-time rival, while Maryland fans largely view Duke as their biggest game of the year… at least until the school darts for the Big Ten after this season.
The disparity makes sense when looking at the recent numbers; Duke has a ten game edge on Maryland since 2001, and are winners of 10-of-12 against the Terrapins.
8.) Florida – 9, Florida State – 4
While this matchup isn’t quite the same draw as the football edition, both basketball programs have had some success as of late, although Florida definitely has an edge on the hardwood with two National Championships, three Final Fours, and a current streak of three straight Elite Eight finishes.
This series has been a bit streaky, as Florida has taken five straight, which was preceded by three straight Seminole wins from 06-08.
7.) Pittsburgh – 16, West Virginia – 7
The Backyard Brawl was the Big East’s most heated football rivalry, which makes its dissolution a total shame. The basketball edition of the rivalry had some fun moments as well, especially in the mid-2000s when both programs had some great teams, but the Panthers have owned the Mountaineers on the court for the most part.
West Virginia got the last laugh before leaving for the Big 12, knocking off Pitt at the Petersen Events Center, 66-48. It’s unclear when these two arch-rivals will get back together, though there were rumblings last summer about the football game being renewed. Hopefully a basketball series isn’t too far behind.
6.) Pittsburgh – 14, Syracuse – 6
Pitt’s aggressive defense and patient, probing offense has given many programs trouble over the years, but few more-so than Jim Boeheim’s Orange. The Panthers have taken 14-of-20 from their Big East-turned-ACC rivals, and are 10-3 under Jamie Dixon. Interestingly enough, Syracuse was the first road team to win a game in the Pete, knocking off Pitt on November 29, 2004 in a tight 49-46 game.
Since then, the Orange are 0-5 in the building, and looking to get that elusive second win Wednesday night. Dixon’s teams have always been good at exposing the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, and their tight man-to-man defense has given some of the more finesse Syracuse squads fits. SU won the first matchup of this season at the Carrier Dome, and a win Wednesday would be SU’s first regular season sweep of the Panthers since 2000-2001.
5.) Arizona – 20, Arizona State – 7
Arizona State has had some decent teams under Herb Sendek, but the Sun Devils have not been able to touch intrastate rival Arizona recently. The Wildcats have won six-of-seven, with an average margin of victory of 13.
The Sun Devils did put together four straight wins during the James Harden era from 2008-09, but without Harden’s contributions, Arizona State is 3-20 against the Wildcats since 2001.
4.) Kansas – 20, Missouri – 6
The Border War between Kansas and Missouri goes way beyond sports, dating back to legitimate fighting between the two states during the Civil War. The basketball rivalry, while heated, has been pretty one-sided throughout history, with the Jayhawks controlling a 172-95 lead in the series, and 20 of the last 26 games.
The last two games of this series with both teams playing as members of the Big 12 were absolute classics. On February 4, 2012, No. 4 Mizzou knocked off No. 8 Kansas, 74-71, in Columbia, while the Jayhawks got revenge three weeks later with in an all-time great game, coming back from a 19-point second half deficit to force overtime, and win 87-86 at the Phog. Missouri’s departure to the SEC has left the rivalry dormant, but both schools still have bad blood. Hopefully they’ll find a way to put this game back on the schedule soon.
T-3.) Kentucky – 21, Tennessee – 6
The bright side for Vols basketball fans? Their team keeps it close pretty often; Tennessee is 12-13 against the spread in its last 25 meetings with Kentucky. The bad? They’ve only scattered six wins in the last 12 seasons.
Even during some lean years (by Kentucky standards) in the end of the Tubby Smith and the Billy Gillispie years from 2006-2009, Tennessee was only able to pull out a 3-5 record, and the eras bookending that down-stretch were ugly for the Vols.
2.) North Carolina – 21, NC State – 6
The 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons were all-Wolfpack in the Carolina-State rivalry. Herb Sendek’s teams swept UNC for two straight seasons. Roy Williams took over the Tar Heels heading into the 2003-04 season, and things were downhill from there for NC State.
Roy Williams is a striking 19-2 against his rival in Raleigh, and only five of those UNC wins have been big single digits. This rivalry has been about as one-sided as possible for a decade.
1.) Kansas – 25, Kansas State – 4
KU has dominated the Big 12, winning the league every season since 2005. Kansas State has been a very solid program for a while now as well, but the Wildcats can’t touch their state rival. The Octagon of Doom has helped the KSU cause a bit—three of the Wildcats’ four wins since 2001 have come on their home court—but its hard to really defend anything about Kansas State’s performance here.
Wildcat fans probably don’t mind right about now, however. They took down Kansas on Monday night in a thrilling 85-82 game. The fans in Manhattan are probably still celebrating, and with a rivalry win this hard to come by, they deserve to.