Sports rivalries present in the Champaign-Urbana area

By Stephen Cohn, Staff writer

Go to Cly’s on a Wednesday night and you’ll find a DJ battle. Walk to the Main Quad in between classes and you’ll see freshmen racing against the clock as they hustle to class. Watch students as they log on to the University Housing application the moment it goes live in hopes of obtaining a dorm in the Ikenberry Commons.

In short, this university — and this country — loves competition and rivalries, especially in sports. Luckily, The Daily Illini is here keep you up-to-date on what to expect in regards to rivalries in collegiate and professional sports.


The University is a member of the Big Ten conference — one of the nation’s top athletic conferences —for its NCAA sports. The Illini have struggled recently in their most-profitable sports, but a strong 2017 recruiting class by men’s basketball coach John Groce as well as the arrival of new football coach and former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith has fans excited about the future.

However, be on the lookout for whenever Ohio State, Michiganor Northwestern shows up on the schedule; Illinois is always looking to stick it to its Big Ten foes. In college, sports, rivalries and tradition mean everything.


Three Major League Baseball (MLB) teams — the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals — are going to take the cake by being nearly everyone’s favorite teams in this area.

However, with the best record in the league and a championship drought dating back to 1908, no team in baseball is more popular than the Cubs right now. Let it be known, though, that the White Sox have taken the past two BP Crosstown Cups, beating the Cubbies in their season series the past two years.


With an estimated 400 million fans watching basketball around the world, many of its superstars are known on a first name basis – LeBron, Kobe, KD, Melo and more. In the C-U, however, only one name (Michael Jordan) and one team (the Chicago Bulls) matters.

Nearing two decades without a championship and a new roster with Dwayne Wade, Rajon Rondo and Olympian Jimmy Butler, the Bulls’ rivalries with LeBron James’ defending-champion Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be alive and well along with the games against the New York Knicks, which feature former Bulls’ Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose.

Don’t be surprised to see Stephen Curry jerseys around campus; everyone wants to shoot like the two-time National Basketball Association MVP.


If some students you come across don’t seem too excited for the National Football League (NFL) season this year, they are probably St. Louis Rams fans. The Rams returned to Los Angeles for this season after 20 years playing in St. Louis. Many Rams fans have turned to cheering for the in-state Chicago Bears as well as the Indianapolis Colts.

The Bears and Colts don’t have much of a rivalry, albeit the Colts beat the Bears in the Super Bowl in 2007. The Bears’ big rivalry comes twice per season with the Green Bay Packers, but as they are stuck in a long playoff drought, don’t expect much from the Bears this season.


The Chicago Blackhawks, led by reigning-MVP Patrick Kane, have established themselves as the National Hockey League’s (NHL) premier organization over the past handful of years, winning three Stanley Cup championships since 2010.

The St. Louis Blues upset the Blackhawks, in the 2016 playoffs but this rivalry has grown over the years into must-watch television. Anticipate the Blackhawks to have championship expectations in 2017, as well as a large amount of red and white sweaters around campus in support.

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