One hundred forty games. Sixty-four years. Two miles. School pride, bragging rights, recruit destinations, religious ideals, and the ownership of an entire street are on the line when the men’s basketball teams at Belmont and Lipscomb compete in their bi-annual matchups, referred to as the Battle of the Boulevard.
Even in a town with two major professional sports teams and four Division I universities, the entire Nashville sports media community convenes when the Belmont Bruins and the Lipscomb Bisons do battle on Belmont Boulevard, a street the two campuses share. Decades before the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators called the area home, the Battle of the Boulevard was front page news.
Lipscomb won the first battle between the two on Dec. 11, 1953 in an unceremonious 72-53 victory. While the meeting was not as heated as it would be in future clashes, the seeds were sown for a competitive rivalry to grow.
In the early days of the rivalry, it could be argued that the traditional face-off was more of a Mexican standoff as fellow Nashville religious-affiliated school Trevecca Nazarene University was a despised opponent of both Belmont and Lipscomb.
As Trevecca’s influence on either school began to taper off, the Bruins and Bisons friendly contempt for each other only grew stronger.
After that first clash in 1953, Lipscomb and Belmont nearly split their series evenly over the next three decades, as Belmont just barely came out on top with nine wins to Lipscomb’s eight in the 50s, 11 wins to the Bisons nine in the 60s, and 12 wins to the Purple and Gold’s 10 in the 70s.
With the rivalry having long been a Nashville sports staple for decades, it was not until the 1980s that it started gaining national prominence thanks to a larger-than-life coach, college basketball’s all-time leading scorer, and a national championship.