Before the 2004-05 season, ESPN conducted a poll of the ESPN staff, ranking the top 10 collegiate basketball rivalries in the nation.
When the results of the poll were aired on ESPN2 in September of 2005, among the top ten were Xavier and Cincinnati, Indiana and Purdue, Illinois and Missouri and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. But beating all of those and coming in at number four was the Calvin College and Hope College rivalry. I’m sure you were able to see that one coming.
Outside of the Division 1A level there are plenty of great college rivalries, and Hope and Calvin is one of them. The two Michigan schools are only separated by some 30-odd miles and have been playing men’s basketball against each other for 93 years.
Over those 93 years, the two teams have played 184 games including both conference and national tournament games. The Dutchman of Hope College currently leads the series 96-88. One of the most incredible things about the rivalry is just how close the games actually are.
Over the 184 games, just 108 total points separate the two teams. Hope has scored 12,515 points, an average of 68.016 per game. Calvin has scored 12,407 points, an average of 67.429 per game. For all you math nuts, that’s an average difference of only 0.587 points-per-game.
And just like any other great rivalry, the rivalry just doesn’t play out on the court. In 2005, Hope opened Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse. The 102,000 square foot building cost $22 million dollars and seats seat approximately 3,400 fans for an athletic event. In reality, it puts places like Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena to shame.
Not to be out done, Calvin announced that they would be building their own new basketball facility as part of a $50 million dollar athletic facility. In 2009, Van Noord Arena opened as part of the 362,000 square foot Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex. The arena can hold up to 5,000 people and boast not one, but four basketball courts.
” They built a really nice facility, so we decided to build a bigger and nicer one,” said Christopher Sveen. Sveen, 30, graduated from Calvin in 2005. “There was no way we wanted Hope to have a better athletic facility than we did.”
One of the great things about a Division III rivalry is the kids who play the game. While some of the students may receive financial aide, most of the tuition is paid by the students. The kids who are there continue to play because they love the sport, not the promise of what may come after they leave college. All of the students will be there for four years, learning to despise their biggest rivals.
So the next time you want to take in a great college basketball game live, think about going to a small college game. And if you’re lucky enough, try driving up to Holland or Grand Rapids, Michigan to check out a Hope-Calvin game. Oh, and a ticket will cost you under $10 dollars.
Check out CalvinHope.Com for more information.