March Madness is the best time in the year to celebrate the sport of basketball. And I’m talking about real basketball here, not the glamorous shiny NBA basketball world where your outfit and your Instagram account is nearly as important as the next game. NCAA basketball is played with heart. It’s passionate, it’s rough and it’s wild. Each game of March Madness is played as if it is the last because of the do-or-die tournament mode. The fans play a major part in the special atmosphere. As a student you support your fellow students on the court. But it’s more than that. It’s cheering for your school as an institution. Europeans might not really understand what it is like to represent your school through sports, but it is something really special. You can feel that sense of community on the whole campus. And it doesn’t really matter wether you are an athlete or not. Supporting your school team as a fan is just as important and fun.
Division I college basketball is big business nowadays with high ticket prices and costly broadcasting deals but there is one huge difference to the pros. Athletes don’t get paid and play their hearts out hoping to eventually make it to the pros. These aspects form a unique tension throughout the tournament that makes it the biggest 4 week basketball festival in the world.
The fans never disappoint in finding new ways to boost their team to the win. You can see the the weirdest costumes, big head cardboard cut outs of the players, morph suits, hair dos that show the teams logo and more. The chants are a little more creative and way louder than you are used to from an NBA game. There’s always a big party going on in the arena. But it’s not just fun. It’s serious. There are some unmatched rivalries college basketball. Here are the top 5 college basketball rivalries.
5. Stanford – Cal
These two schools are located pretty close to each other in the golden state of California. Both schools stand for academic excellence in their fields. With numerous graduates who won the Nobel Prize they compete on the highest level. That same competition takes place on the basketball court. Both teams are not a favorite for the championship but when they meet in the regular season you can expect a thriller!
4. Indiana – Kentucky
Both schools have a great and successful history in college basketball. Just take a look at some alumni that ended up winning championships in the NBA after their college career.
When it comes to notable alumni Kentucky is in no way inferior to Indiana. Pat Riley used to play for the Wildcats and in recent history the program produced some NBA All-Stars including John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.
A match-up between those can be as tense as it gets and as championship contenders it is likely to see them compete in March Madness quite often, as was the case in this year’s round of 32.
3. Xavier – Cincinnati
The two schools are only 5 miles apart and the crowd is on fire when they meet. So are the players and coaches. In 2011, the situation overheated a little and ended up in a massive brawl between the two teams.
2. Kentucky – Louisville
Games between Kentucky and Louisville are always carried out with passion. Both programs are located in the college basketball hotbed state Kentucky. Rick Pitino has coached at both schools which adds to the rivalry.
1. Duke – North Carolina
Duke – UNC is without any doubt one of the greatest rivalries in any sport. They are both top teams and have been championship contenders for the past years. Their quality on court is immense. The two schools have won 9 national championships in total and sent numerous players to play professional basketball after college. Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, Vince Carter, J.J. Redick, Tyler Hansbrough, Jahlil Okafor just to name some of them.
Durham and Chapel Hill – the home bases of the two teams – are only 15 miles apart. Their fans are the wildest and despise one another. One significant moment took place in the 2007 match-up when Duke player Gerald Henderson broke Tyler Hansbrough’s nose in an attempt to block his shot. This incident fired up the rivalry to a new level.
But as always, a picture is worth a thousand words. In case you did not get enough, here are the best pictures and videos from March Madness. The madness is real.
Crazy Duke Fan
Best College Basketball Chants