A Look at New England’s Top College Basketball Rivalries


Wednesday night boasts a matchup of potentially the greatest rivalry in all of sports, with Duke set to square off against North Carolina. Basketball fans for years have enjoyed this rivalry. However, those of us in New England do not have to wait for this game to experience a fierce rivalry. These local rivalries might not be as famous as Duke or UNC, but they are equally feisty and fun to watch.

Providence Friars vs. Boston College Eagles

These former Big East rivals share an intense rivalry, that has seen the two teams square off over 100 times, and often their games are physical and leave players black and blue. The Friars and Eagles have been historically two of the more successful New England college teams, boasting multiple Elite Eight appearances between them (the Friars have two Final Fours as well.) Also,these two programs come from major conferences (ACC, Big East), and alumni from each school enjoy the annual bragging rights. In spite of the Eagles fall from relevance in recent years, the game is always tight, as seen with the Eagles upset home win over the Friars this past December.

University of Rhode Island vs. Providence Friars

For as large as the Providence and Boston College rivalry is, is as intense as the Providence and URI rivalry is. Both schools located in the small, but fiercely proud state of Rhode Island, where basketball is a way of life. The Friars and Rams annually sell out, and the state takes notice of the dual. The crowd dons Friar black or URI blue, and both fan bases are well represented at every game. And these two schools and fans do not like each other. Last game down at URI Dan Hurley and Ed Cooley got into a screaming match at half court. And now both teams have emerging programs. URI under Dan Hurley looks poised to be dancing come March, with several key freshmen and recruits coming in. And for the Friars, they are defending Big East champs, who are almost certain to be dancing again this March. This rivalry is fierce, and will only grow as these teams improve.

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Umass vs. Boston College

The Bay State rivalry is similar to the Providence vs URI rivalry. The Minutemen have been looking to establish themselves as the dominant Massachusetts team, and it has been hard to argue, with their recent success versus the Eagles. The Minutemen under Derek Kellogg have enjoyed immense success, making the NCAA last year, and running into the top of the A-10 standings yet again.

Umass vs. URI

This is a rivalry that has yet to fully form, yet it could be intriguing to watch for years to come. As highlighted before, the Rams, and the Minutemen are quickly ascending within the ranks of college basketball. Both are in the A-10, meaning yearly meetings are guaranteed. And both are currently sitting tied atop the A-10, and Wednesday’s game at URI could decide first place. This game should be on the docket for any major college basketball fan, and if the Eagles keep suffocating under the ACC, these two teams could swipe power from “big brother” programs such as Providence and Boston College.

While none of these are as vital to the landscape of college basketball like Duke vs. UNC, these rivalries deserve attention, and are just as entertaining.