I'm not quite sure how this happened. On the list of schools that could be the biggest overall rival of the Syracuse Orange, a bunch of weirdos from Kentucky would be pretty low on the list. I would have said it would take a whole lot of strange occurrences for the Louisville Cardinals to become Syracuse's biggest rival.
West Virginia went to the Big 12, taking with them our most traditional football rivalry.
Rutgers went to the Big Ten, taking with them our most current football rivalry.
Syracuse is leaving the Big East and that means the Georgetown & UConn basketball rivalries will lose some luster, even if we keep playing them (Georgetown likely, UConn not as much until they join the ACC in 2017).
Coach P is so bad that he somehow became the head coach of the Connecticut Huskies football team and made our rivalry with them LESS interesting.
The Pittsburgh Panthers are coming with us to the ACC but they remain just a familiar face on the schedule.
The Louisville Cardinals and Syracuse Orange have arguably been the top two programs in Big East basketball over the last five years. Their games routinely have serious impacts on the Big East regular season conference crown and feature two nationally-ranked teams.
The Louisville Cardinals and Syracuse Orange shared the Big East football basement four years ago and they shared the Big East football conference crown this year. Between 2007 and 2010, the point differential between the two teams was between one and eight in each game and the teams went 3-3 against one another in the last six meetings.
The schools will pick up their rivalry in the ACC soon enough. In basketball, they will both immediately compete for the conference crown and stand toe-to-toe with Duke, UNC and...uh...whoever else there is. In football, they'll both be competitive. Even if Louisville is in a better position, Syracuse has proven they're capable of keeping pace.
There's also actual emotion behind the rivalry. Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino may be friends but they also want to beat the snot out of one another. And don't you dare bring up Boeheim's record against Pitino, lest you want your business to be known.
When Syracuse lobbied the ACC to choose Louisville over UConn, it made a helluva statement. Of course, part of that statement was, "We don't want another team from the NYC area in the league." But another part of it was, "These guys are good and we want to keep playing them." In the old days, a rival never would have fought to help another rival like this, but, in today's college sports landscape, Syracuse needs a Louisville close-by to keep things interesting.
Saturday's hardwood match-up between the No.1 Cardinals and No. 6 Orange is the latest in a long line of huge games between the two schools. We'll play at least once more this season and then we'll have to wait for them to find us in the ACC. When they finally get there, we can keep this impromptu, unintended rivalry going. And with a conference full of unknown quantities and one-sport rivals to look forward to, Syracuse fans should welcome that with open arms.