"Forget Duke vs. UNC, the real rivalry is Austin Peay vs. Murray State!"
Think it's only fans of top programs who turn red-alert games into a Rock of Love Bus reunion? Think again. (Warning: this could get ugly.)
ESPN's "Rivalry Week" will begin on February 10th. ESPNTheMag.Com will have a "Back and Forth" between a student from Arizona State and one from UCLA that week.
MURRAY STATE vs. AUSTIN PEAY
Ron Beaton, 22, Murray State
Forget Duke—UNC, the real rivalry is Austin Peay—Murray State. Whenever Austin Peay comes to town, it's standing room only in RSEC. And they make their presence known, which is pretty obnoxious. I'll admit they have a cgood cheer in "Let's go Peay," but we drown them out with "Flush the Peay." I've gone to games at their place, and they use slightly more foul language: "Muck Furray State" is a fun one. But it's probably because they're jealous; I know they wish they had 20 OVC titles and 13 OVC tournament championships. And let's be honest, nobody wants to root for urine.
The situation this season: Austin Peay won their game on January 10, 58-57. They play again on February 7.
CALVIN vs. HOPE
Alex Monsma, 20, Calvin
We've been playing each other for 89 years and the overall record is 86—84, which shows how closely we're matched. It's probably the greatest college basketball rivalry, period. Bigger schools may feature guys headed to the NBA, but Calvin vs. Hope is the athletic highlight for our players. I pride myself on being a Knight. I mean, who would you pick in a fight? A strong, honorable, brave Knight or a Flying Dutchman? I mean, come on.
The situation this season: Calvin defeated Hope, 66-64, on January 17. They play again February 11.
HOWARD vs. HAMPTON
Maquita Eaton, 19, Howard
We play at Madison Square Garden and it gets crazy. We're fighting over who is the real HU. Hampton used to be called Hampton Institute, so they pretty much stole our name when they changed to University in 1984. I don't see how anyone could pull for them. Sometimes they have an 11 p.m. curfew for freshmen, and they also have lame visitation rules for the opposite sex. For example, I heard you can't have a visit from a guy unless both students have their feet on the floor and the door is open. Come on, we're supposed to be adults. At Howard, we're liberal in our views, and in the last decade, we graduated the most black PhDs of any school. Which is nice, since our basketball team doesn't really win that often.
The situation this season: Hampton won, 45-39, on December 6. They play again on March 5.
INDIANA vs. PURDUE
Ben Heisler, 20, Indiana
Ours is hands down the best rivalry in the Big Ten. I think it dates back to when Bob Knight and Gene Keady would go at it on the sidelines. You have two teams that play hard, fans who hate each other and are separated by 100 miles in the United State of basketball—it doesn't get any better than that. Beating Purdue in basketball is like eating a juicy grilled steak: You crave it badly before you even sit down, but once you actually taste it, it warms your soul. We want to beat each other's brains out.
The situation this season: The two teams meet on February 23.
"One game, Cal Poly yelled, "UC-STD!" We retorted, "We got it from your mom!"
PENN vs. PRINCETON
Chris Zervoudis, 21, Penn
We usually have a bunch of T-shirts made before the game. Recently, we made a not-so-family-friendly T of Ben Franklin with the Tiger in a compromising position. They like to chant "safety school" at us, which shows we're also rivals off the hardwood. In my stats class, for instance, our professor would say, "Oh, that must have been taught by a Princeton professor" whenever something was wrong. Penn is down-to-earth, unlike Princeton, where everyone has their noses in the air—you know, the sweater vest, yacht club set.
The situation this season: The teams play on February 17 and March 10.
SOUTH CAROLINA vs. CLEMSON
Matt Moore, 21, South Carolina
We don't mess around with cheesy gimmicks or pep rallies. All we need is a major football game to get pumped up for a basketball battle about a month later. There is always a football hangover when these teams meet. One of the most satisfying moments for Gamecocks fans happened during the 2001-02 season. We beat the Tigers in football, then traveled to Clemson 21 days later for basketball. Up 77-54 with a few minutes remaining, a "Just like football" chant rang down from the rafters of Littlejohn Coliseum. This season, we have two of the most exciting players in the oountry in Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick. And we're on our way back to prominence under new coach Darrin Horn.
The situation this season: Clemson won, 98-87, on December 30.
SAINT JOSEPH'S vs. VILLANOVA
Matthew De George, 20, Saint Joseph's
We're both Philadelphia-area Catholic schools with similar student demographics. During rivalry week, we break out the "Beat Nova" and "Friends Don't Let Friends Go to Nova" T-shirts. We'll also bring out a huge rollout, a long banner with a slogan calling out one of the Wildcats' best players, like Scottie Reynolds—"Hawk D Wraps Reynolds." It gets passed from the top of the student section all the way down and across. The rivalry has gotten a lot more heated recently because both teams have Philly-area guys—Phil Martelli for us and Jay Wright for them. That takes the Holy War to a new level.
The situation this season: Villanova won, 59-56, on December 11.
Want to see Jamie Dixon fired up? Bring WVU to his house.
UCSB vs. CAL POLY SAN LUIS OBISPO
John Greely, 20, UCSB
The locals used to throw tortillas here, but that cooled down because refs kept handing out technicals to fans for the stunts. We mock them for being an agricultural school, with chants like "Moo means no." They mock us for not having a football team. One game, Cal Poly yelled, "UC-STD." We retorted, "We got it from your mom!"
The situation this season: UCSB won, 72-62, on January 17. They play again on February 14.
UTAH vs. BYU
Tony Pizza, 28, Utah
Fans from the two schools live next to each other, so if you're a Utah fan, you might have to look at your neighbor's ugly, blue BYU flag every day. It can get to you. Utah's student body is probably, like, 60% Mormon, but I think we're more relaxed about it. In a lot of the chants we call them Goody Two-shoes, and they call us heathens. We also use dry erase boards to write them messages during games; when they do something that's not very Christ-like, we call them out on it. You can see how frustrated they get. We love that. Lately they've been all over one of our best players, Luke Nevill. They think he looks like Beaker from the Muppets, so they bring cardboard cutouts to make fun of him. But a few of their prophets went to our school, and we like to rub that in their faces. We hold up signs like "Gordon B. Hinckley Was a Utah Man."
The situation this season: On January 27, Utah won 94-88 in OT. They play again on February 28.
PITTSBURGH vs. WEST VIRGINIA
Nate Muzika, 21, Pittsburgh
Games between our schools always pack an intense atmosphere. They have this fat guy, dressed in typical Mountaineer gear, who gets fans fired up during timeouts. Both teams have made runs in the Tourney—an Elite Eight for West Virginia in 2005 and a Sweet 16 for Pitt in 2007. So the game has become a measuring stick for both programs. There was a different buzz around here in early January when we were No. 1. It's been a treat talking with friends at West Virginia. I don't need to say much—the rankings do my talking for me.
The situation this season: Pitt won, 79-67, on January 25. They play again on February 9.
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