Best Football & Basketball COMBO rivalries in the country?

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on March 20th, 2017 at 7:35 PM

Have been watching some documentaries on other college basketball rivalries like UK-UL and Duke-Carolina, and have found an interesting question that I've had trouble with.

What is the best Football-Basketball rivalry in the country? Where both programs are really good, have really good histories and are notable primetime games for networks.

For example, those two rivalries I mentioned above in Basketball are huge. But they don't register on the Football side at all.

The Iron Bowl in Football? I'm not sure if those schools know they have basketball teams. 

The Game is the ultimate rivalry in Football. But on the Basketball side, it does not have the same intensity. 




March 20th, 2017 at 7:53 PM ^

very few schools have been relevant in both basketball and football in the last 10-20. Probably Louisville, Oklahoma?, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, USC?, Texas prior to 2010?, and Florida

Looking over that list, Texas-OU kinda sorta sticks out but Michigan-MSU sticks out the most, especially since M-OSU basketball is orders of magnitude less intense than M-OSU football. You could make a real strong argument that, while M-OSU is the #1 football rivalry, M-MSU is the best football/basketball combo rivalry.


March 20th, 2017 at 7:43 PM ^

This is so vague.

Does "best" equate to "intensity"?  I'm sure Yale-Harvard hate each other in both football and basketball.  If "best" means "quality," that's a different issue.  Also, given the quality of Dook-UNC in basketball, does the fact they are relatively unimportant for football not matter.

Also are you going by current relevance, or historical?  USC-UCLA is pretty important in both right now.  Texas-Oklahoma at times is pretty important in hoops too.

Obv you are angling for UM-MSU, but the football relevance of that NORMALLY is not all that big, given the general national irrelevance of one of us (*cough cough green phlegm").  On the flipside, UM-OSU hoops isn't really all that intense -- srsly, any of us get up for the OSU basketball game as much as MSU, Illinois of Indiana?  Not really.

Florida-FSU sometimes could be meaningful in hoops, but I can't even say they play each other every year in hoops?

All thinks Kansas-related are ruled out cuz you said football too.

So clearly, the most important combo rivalry is Michigan & Illinois.  At least from the U of I perspective.

Mocha Cub

March 20th, 2017 at 7:43 PM ^

Rutgers vs Anybody.


Really though, Michigan-OSU is the first that comes to mind as being big for both schools in both sports where it's actually meant something. 

Bando Calrissian

March 20th, 2017 at 7:44 PM ^

For as great as college basketball is, there's really only one rivalry people care about on a national level, and that's Duke-UNC. The rest of them are regional and/or very hit-or-miss. There really isn't much of a comparison with college football, where there are a good 10 rivalry games everyone watches every year, no matter what.


March 20th, 2017 at 7:47 PM ^

Michigan / MSU is #1 in my mind.

I think Texas + OK may have had a decent 2-sport rivalry over the years, but I can't think of a time when all 4 teams were simultaneously good/great.

Louisville might be on the way to developing a 2-sport rivalry with. . . somebody? FSU, possibly? Maybe ND, just because of their pedigree? 


March 20th, 2017 at 8:02 PM ^

Considering you can count on 1 hand programs that have had very good teams for extended times in both sports, it's difficult to create a rivarly of any sort.

What "new" blood or "blue| bloods in football give even an inkling of damns in basketball?

  • Bama - uhh, what's basketball
  • UM has had good bball bookended the past 25 years with a very dark space in between. 
  • USC couldn't care less about basketball
  • Texas - see USC
  • FSU - nah
  • PSU - nah
  • Georgia - nah
  • OSU - good past decade mostly, don't remember them doing much before then except for Jim Jackson era.O
  • Oklahoma - perhaps most like UM, with some good basketball teams in certain eras.

Conversely what blue bloods in basketball give a damn about football or have a top 25 annual team - almost none.

  • Kansas, Duke, NC - I mean the latter 2 have been decent enough programs in fball but nothing you are going to care about.
  • Arizona - nah on football
  • UCLA - always seem to be behind what they could be in football; last sustained glory era was 80s. 

The only programs with any real balance between the 2 programs of any sort in my estimations almost all (aside from Florida) reside in the Big 10 - UM, OSU, MSU, Wisconsin.  MSU was a black hole in fball pre Dantonio just as UM was in Ellerbe/Amaker.  OSU pre Matta was nothing to write home about.  You could argue Wisconsin has had the best balance of anyone the past 15-20 years aside from Florida.

You have some "new bloods" like Baylor and Oregon who seemingly are solid in both sides the past decade in football and past 3-4 years in bball.  We'll see if Baylor holds up in football now ex their disaster.  And Oregon seems on the downtrend too.

I could make a case really that Wisconsin v MSU has been the best rivalry in BOTh sports the past 15-17 years.  They had some great battles in football and I think I saw the other day Wisconsin has the most NCAA wins the past 7-8 years or something like that.

5 years ago Florida was probably the most balanced program in the country in terms of high level excellence but has fallen back a bit - but no consistent rival in both sports.

So all I have as teams who are pretty decent in both sports for more than 8 of the past 20 years would be something like MSU, UM, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Florida, OSU.


March 20th, 2017 at 8:07 PM ^

Here are some stories of schools with good programs in both sports; slim pickings. Pretty much what I wrote above with exception of Notre Dame & Louisville which these stories cite.   I guess I left out Notre Dame as I've never though basketball to be high level but I guess in a relative sense in a world of few choices they have decent results in both sports last 20 years.  If you only look at the last 5 years, Louisville could be up there starting with late Charlie Strong era?………



March 21st, 2017 at 12:02 AM ^

In 2007 #2 KU lost to #4 Mizzou in Arrowhead stadium. I was living in Missouri then and it was a huge game.  That's it though!  

Mizzou and KU games when they were in the Big 8 & Big 12 were incredible!  Even if one was bad, mostly Mizzou, you could count on a great game or an upset.  

That rivalry goes back to the Civil War due to the rape, pillage, and plunder that went on between the two states.  They still don't really like each other much.  Mizzou leaving for the SEC really killed one of the great bball rivalries.


March 20th, 2017 at 8:27 PM ^

and the reason isn't necessarily that they're both good at both sports, it's that one has generally had elite stretches at one sport and so there is payback to be had in the other sport.  And each team has had just enough success in the other schools "preferred" sport to annoy the superior program.

Michigan is obviously the dominant program in football over MSU, but MSU has had some recent success and there are few things that annoy us more than them being better at football than us.  Their basketball dominance has only been in the last 20 years and we've slowly mostly evened back up here in the last five, and it's a beautiful thing to see how much they dislike this.

USC/UCLA is fairly similar except football is the sport in which both schools have had success even though USC is the bigger program.  UCLA has long been dominant in basketball but there have been enough times in which USC basketball is better to annoy UCLA. Proximity also means these fanbases just hate each other like M/MSU.  If two guys in UCLA and USC shirts are walking down the street in LA, they're going to have a rivalry over who can get to the street corner faster.  Same with M/MSU obvioulsy.

Kansas/Kansas State is the next closest, probably.  Has a similar dynamic, except that Kansas State doesn't quite have the football prowess of Michigan or USC football or UCLA or MSU basketball.  Also, Kansas is a smaller state and far fewer people nationally care about those programs.

I don't know enough about UNC/Duke football to know if they care at all, but both programs have actually had a pulse lately so maybe that is a thing?

I can't think of many others that are even enough in both sports or that allow paybacks in a way the other program cares about or that are at all relevant on a national level.  The Texas schools all kind of hate each other but not sure any of them care enough about basketball to enter the list here.


March 20th, 2017 at 9:24 PM ^

last year?  USC won all three head-to-head games and made the NCAA tournament while UCLA had a losing record and did not even make the NIT.  Things were looking dire for Alford.

Tim Floyd had a stretch of good years from 2007-2009 during which they weren't overall better than UCLA but they were splitting home and homes and giving UCLA some fits. The Taj Gibson/OJ Mayo/Demar DeRozan years.

For the entire 01-04 period USC was better.  They were only good themselves in 2002 (and also in 00-01 when Henry Bibby took them to the elite 8) but they went 5-1 against UCLA at the end of the Steve Lavin era (02-03) and beginning of the Ben Howland era (03-04) when UCLA was bad.


March 20th, 2017 at 10:12 PM ^

You're talking about very short stretches, in some cases single seasons. Since 2001, UCLA has made 3 Final Fours and 3 Sweet Sixteens. They could be headed to a 4th Final Four this year. The best USC has done during this stretch is make one Elite 8 (in 2001) and one Sweet Sixteen (2007). Also, it's kind of hard to say that this is one of the top basketball rivalries since USC basketball is much closer to PSU basketball in terms of historical success while UCLA is a storied, blue blood program. It's a rivalry in the sense that both schools are in LA, but that's pretty much the extent of it, in my view.

On the other hand, Michigan-MSU features two near elite basketball programs that have each had long stretches where they have been the superior program. They have both had about the same level of historical success. They have both won national championships, etc. 



March 21st, 2017 at 1:44 AM ^

I said "USC/UCLA is fairly similar except football is the sport in which both schools have had success even though USC is the bigger program".

I'm comparing the USC/UCLA football rivalry to the M/MSU basketball rivalry (recognizing that M/MSU basketball have been more even historically) and the M/MSU football rivalry to the USC/UCLA basketball rivalry.

I am not arguing that the USC/UCLA basketball rivalry is one of the very top rivalries, just like M/MSU isn't a top football rivalry.  We've largely dominated the big brother-little brother rivalry with relatively few and short stretches in which MSU is actually "better" or just wins a game. Recency aside, from 1970-2007, MSU only won 8 football games over us in 38 tries, and never two in a row. This is a period in which you never would have said MSU was better for even for more than one season in a row.  They've only been to two Rose Bowls since 1965.  They're generally not good at football like USC isn't at basketball.

I'm merely arguing that USC has had enough occasional success to be annoying to UCLA when they do.  Similar to M/MSU in football.

Chitown Kev

March 21st, 2017 at 12:16 AM ^

USC had a couple of Top 5 BB teams that didn't make the tourney because they couldn't beat UCLA

EDIT: Went and looked this one up.

The definitive answer to the question in the OP is USC/UCLA and I don't think that it's even close...I remember reading about some of those clashes in the Wooden era and they've had a few since then.


March 20th, 2017 at 8:17 PM ^

I dislike Ohio states basketball program, but it doesn't even come close to my hatred to their football program. They would probably tell you the exact same thing. Therefore I'd have to go with sparty/Michigan, especially because of MSU's recent, soon to be past, success they've had vs us in footage

Chitown Kev

March 20th, 2017 at 8:45 PM ^




I can't think of anaything else off of the top of my head other than well...

ND's rivalries with USC and UCLA...but those are 2 different schools (Duh!) and ND rarely plays UCLA in football or USC in basketball...and I'm stretching.


March 20th, 2017 at 8:47 PM ^

Interestingly there are only 3 teams that finished in the Top 10 post-season rankings in football that are still in the basketball bracket: Michigan, Wisconsin, and USC.  Only time will tell if they will finish in the Top 10 in basketball.  None of their rivals are still in this year's bracket and none of them are really blue blood basketball programs.  Wiscy is usually solid and UM has had it's ups and downs and obviously has the notoriety of the Fab Five, but only has one NC to it's name, although they did lose in the NC game 4 additional times.


The blue blood football programs like Bama, Florida, FSU, Miami, Texas, Oklahoma, USC, OSU, UM, ND, etc. aren't really blue blood blood basketball programs for the most part.  And the blue blood basketball programs like UNC, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Indiana, Syracuse, UCONN, etc. don't really have great football programs.  There are a handfull that are pretty good at both for periods of time like UM, MSU, OSU, UCLA, USC, Florida, Syracuse, but none that have really stood the test the time, even over say the past 25 years.


The two sports generally don't tend to match up.  It's really hard to be good at both for an extended period of time.