One of the questions Chris over at The Nova Blog posed to me was how Syracuse fans would rank Villanova on their list of hated rivals. Here was my answer
There was a while there when UConn was the biggest rival but Georgetown has reclaimed its rightful place atop that list. The Huskies remain a close second. As far as third on that list, it's probably Villanova. Pitt might be neck-and-neck with you guys just because they seem to have our number lately but historically I would think you guys are up there. We'll call you 3A and Pitt will be 3B.
Now I'm curious to know what you think.
Historically, I don't think it's any question that Villanova would be No. 3. So many memorable games from the 80's, 90's and 00's. The players, the coaches, the moments... Throw in the recent back-and-forth games between the two and bigtime crowds that have come to watch them play and it's tough to make a case against them.
As for Pitt, I'm sure someone will tell me about a memorable SU-Pitt game from the 80's but I honestly don't even think of them from that era. I'm honestly not even sure they had a basketball team before 1997. (To be fair, they won a couple Big East regular-season titles in the late 80's, but were largely irrelevant in the 90's). Though, we have played Pitt a lot more and for a lot longer than Nova, if that counts for anything.
In terms of whether or not it's an even rivalry over the entire course of the series, it's no contest. Whereas the Orange dominate their series with Pitt 61-37, the Villanova series is a lot more even (35-30 SU). And keep in mind that Pitt has done a lot of work to close that gap in the last decade, it was even more tipped in Cuse's favor before then.
I'd still say Villanova is probably still more of a "hated" rival than Pitt. Pitt's recent dominance over the Big East, as well as us, has pushed them almost even but not quite. They're still missing that key ingredient that only 40 years of hatred can provide (see Georgetown, UConn, Villanova).
As for who's next on the rivalry list (Louisville? Providence? Seton Hall? Akron?), that's a whole other story...