St. John's is located in New York City. Syracuse is located in Upstate New York.
St. John's plays around 20 or so game in NYC each year. Syracuse plays 3-5, depending on how the Big East Tournament shakes out.
Syracuse is New York's College Team. St. John's is not.
You don't like it? Win a basketball game.
The rivalry was already a great one before SU started calling itself New York's College Town. They met for the first time in 1912 when both team were Men, one of redness and the other of orangeness Syracuse leads the all-time series, 47-37, though Syracuse has won 11 of the last 12. That include this season, when the Orange handed St. John's their only loss of the season in the Garden.
Now that they're finally adequate again, the Johnnies would like to reclaim their place as New York City's most lovable college basketball team. It's no small feat. Syracuse doesn't even get credit for playing in MSG anymore, it's become that much of a second home court. So if the Johnnies want to take back that title, they're going to have to actually beat us.
In the meantime, St. John's players continue to look at our t-shirts and their slogans with disdain:
"As far as their shirts, they're entitled to their own opinion," said Red Storm senior Sean Evans stiffly, recalling the incident nearly two months later. "We are New York's team. We think we are. We're going to prove it."
Sophia Hollander decided to figure out, on paper, which of the two programs can actually lay claim to the Big Apple and, somehow, came to the conclusion that St. John's is in the driver's seat. Let's see how that works considering the Johnnies have been relevant for precisely one season in the last ten years...
Hollander gives St. John's the advantage in the "history at MSG" department:
Over the years, St. John's would become increasingly comfortable in the arena, compiling a record of 396-260 (a stellar .603 winning percentage).
While Syracuse is 84-69 overall at The Garden (.549), it is 66-41 there during Coach Jim Boeheim's tenure (.617). Over that same span, St. John's is 168-120 (.583).
Of course, there's a flaw in those numbers. St. John's has a better winning percentage in the Garden but that's because they've played a lot of crappy team in that building. Meanwhile, every time Syracuse plays in the Garden, they're playing a really good team...unless they've been playing a recent St. John's team. Take away all the gimmes against crappy NYC-area schools and I'm willing to bet the Orange rule the "meaningful game winning percentage" at MSG.
She also gives St. John's the advantage in Local Advertising. I'm not there so I don't know for sure but according to the article Syracuse spends more. And that Times Square billboard is still very much there.
As for why St. John's wins the Alumni category, I'm not really sure. Chances are 75% of the media members covering the game will be from SU, the crowd will be at least half Orange and five-block area around Madison Square Garden will be drenched in orange Thursday.
As for "When you meet a Syracuse fan in New York City, he went to Syracuse," that's simply not true. Half the people I met before the Washington game didn't go to Syracuse and, growing up in NJ, I can assure you there were plenty of Syracuse fans around. Not very many St. John's fans.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is winning the game. If Syracuse wins, they'll only continue their claim to NYC and the rest of the state. If St. John's wins, good for you guys. Do it more often and we'll consider ceded the title.