We're back for your daily dose of the MTB College Sports Bucket List and we're just starting to hit our stride.  Yesterday it was one of the games that's near and dear to this author's heart, the Cy-Hawk Series, which would've been much higher had it not already been crossed off of my personal list thanks to going to Iowa State.  Today it's a game I'm equally excited about, but for totally different reasons and a totally different sport than football.  

When you think of college basketball rivalries chances are names like UNC vs. Duke, Georgetown vs. Syracuse, UCLA vs. Arizona, and Kentucky vs. Louisville come readily to the front of your mind.  Well, chances are equal that No. 96 on our list may not even enter your brain, so we're going to introduce you to the best college basketball rivalry you haven't heard of.  

No. 96 Calvin vs. Hope (DIII Basketball):

Calvin vs. Hope

Like a lot of good college sports rivalries this one is born out of the religious affiliations of the two schools.  Hope is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America while Calvin is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church.  Yep, you guessed it, the CRC is a breakaway from the Reformed Church in America.

Chances are you may have not heard of this game and that's an absolute shame because it's one of the nations longest standing and best college basketball rivalries out there.  Don't underestimate this one just because it's not a "major college" rivalry.  It's got all the ingredients of those rivalries, minus one - the hate.  Heck, it's even got it's own website, I mean seriously, how many DIII games can say that?


This one is simply born out of quality basketball and a competitive nature between the two Michigan based schools.  The Calvin Knights vs. Hope Flying Dutchmen is for my money one of the top five college basketball games you could see in any given year.  Why?  Well, the series is about as close as you can get (Hope leads 95-87 overall) and the series difference in points is just 131, which is only 0.720 per game, ya I'd say that's damn close, huh?

These two teams regularly play for conference honors as well as NCAA tournament appearances and games in that tournament so it's not based on pure hate, but out of respect for the competitive level these two teams have for each other.  Over 90 years the two teams have met 182 times.  In fact since 2002 these teams have met more than the two regular season games in 7 seasons with the 2007 year being the most meetings in a single season at 5.  Yes, you saw that correct, in one year these teams managed to meet 5 times.  Of course it wouldn't be Calvin vs. Hope if the series didn't end 3-2 in favor of Hope only on the strength of their 79-76 win the DIII national tournament 2nd round. 

Don't think it's always been a super close rivalry either though.  During the 1970's Calvin went undefeated against their rivals and owned a 21-0 mark.  Hope responded by going 14-9 in the next decade and then these two got back to their super close ways by splitting the 1990's at 13 games a piece.

This game has become a must see event not only for the schools, the communities, the alumni, but for others across the world and the game is regularly televised on TV and through the internet.  Alumni regularly find a spot to meet up and watch the game wherever in the world they are.  Sure sounds a lot like those "big" college rivalries, huh?

In fact this rivalry set the record for attendance at a DIII basketball game in 1997 by packing the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids to the tune of an 11,442 sell-out, as if you needed any more reason why this one is on the list.

For sure this one is deserving of being higher on the list, and it was on my personal list, but alas I'm not the only decider here at MTB.  I hope you explore this one and consider being one of the thousands in attendance at least once in your lifetime, I know I will.

Here's the MTB College Sports Bucket List so far for your viewing pleasure:

Rank Game/Event Sport
No. 100 Army vs. Canadian Royal Military College DI Hockey
No. 99 Adrian vs. MSOE DIII Hockey
No. 98 VMI vs. The Citadel FCS Football
No. 97 Iowa vs. Iowa State FBS Football