1. Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
The cream of the culture when it comes to rivalries, this rivalry dates back to when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees and “The Curse of the Bambino” began in 1918. While the Yankees were out winning World Series and Pennants the Red Sox had become the lovable losers of baseball, getting very close many times but losing in a heartbreaking fashion. For 86 years from 1918-2004 the Boston Red Sox had 0 World Championships and the Yankees had 26 titles. In 2004 the Red Sox finally broke through with a World Series title that they had to beat the Yankees to get to. The Red Sox then won again in 2007 and the Yankees won in 2009. Red Sox won in 2013. Two of the top markets in sports. Two of the top fan bases. Two of the biggest cities in the country. It is always a battle between these two teams and it always seems important when these two teams meet.
2. Michigan vs. Ohio State Football
These two teams won’t even call each other by name. Michigan refers to Ohio State simply as “Ohio” and Ohio State refers to Michigan as “That team up North”. Dating back to 1935, the game has decided the Big Ten Championship 22 times between the two schools and affected the outcome an additional 25 times. Perhaps the greatest stretch of any rivalry was the 10 year war from 1969-1978. This was the beginning of the Bo Schembechler era at Michigan. The war ended 5-4-1 in Michigan’s favor and nothing is more the epitome of the war than the 1973 game. In 1973, both teams entered undefeated, with the winner guaranteed a trip to the Rose Bowl. The rivals played to a 10–10 tie in Ann Arbor on November 24, and the athletic directors of the other Big Ten institutions were forced to vote on the Big Ten representative for the bowl game. In a secret ballot, Ohio State won the vote, to the outrage of Michigan athletic officials and fans. Between the schools there are 18 national titles, 10 Heisman trophies, 34 Rose Bowl appearances, and 1759 wins. That’s a rivalry. Michigan leads the series 58-45-6.
3. Duke vs. UNC Basketball
This Rivalry is always important when it comes to national prominence and conference champions. UNC leads the series 132-104 with the first game being a Tar Heel victory in 1920. For the last 129 meetings at least one of the teams has been ranked. They have met 70 times when both teams are ranked, with the record being 35-35. With these teams just 8 miles away on tobacco road the fan bases, players, and coaches all seem to have that extra little hatred that makes a rivalry great.
4. Auburn vs. Alabama Football
With in-state rivalries there is no middle ground. You love one team and hate the other. This rivalry is no different. This is a hard fought series that always involves physicality and athleticism. 3 of the last 4 National Champions have been one of these two teams, including another appearance by Auburn this year. This years Iron Bowl will go down as one of the best college football games ever played. Alabama leads the series 42-35-1.
5. Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Despite the lack of luster in the past two or three years, this is the number one basketball rivalry between the two most prestigious NBA franchises in the league. They have combined for 33 Championships appearing against each other 12 times in the finals with the Celtics winning 9 to the Lakers 3. There rivalry was at its peak when it was “Magic vs. Bird” in the 80’s but it has been revitalized by Kobe vs. “The Big 3” of the Celtics. This always is an important rivalry, which is obvious because they have combined to win almost half of the championships in the NBA.