Clear-cut Syracuse basketball rival is anything but definitive these days

Joe Girard III, Syracuse basketball (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Joe Girard III, Syracuse basketball (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Syracuse basketball is in a weird place these days as far as a chief rival is concerned.

Earlier this week, we debated a topic posed by FOX College Hoops as it pertains to Syracuse basketball. Namely, what’s preferred between beating a rival on an annual basis or winning consecutive national championships.

My colleagues at Inside The Loud House and I would absolutely vote in favor of titles over rivals, but that discussion brought up another interesting question to consider.

Does the Orange really even have a pronounced rival as things currently stand? I believe that the answer at this time is unfortunately not.

The ‘Cuse moved from the old Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013, so Syracuse has served as an ACC member for seven seasons. In those seven campaigns, the Orange has made the Big Dance on four occasions, including trips to the Final Four and the Sweet 16.

During its ACC tenure to date, the ‘Cuse has struggled at times, but it has also battled with its new league opponents in a bunch of really exciting encounters.

However, to suggest that Syracuse is in a heated rivalry with, say, Duke doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The Blue Devils versus North Carolina is an in-state, storied rivalry that is unmatched in collegiate hoops. So the Orange is never going to amount to the main rival for Duke or UNC.

Prominent Syracuse basketball rivalries are difficult to determine nowadays.

In terms of other ACC schools, Boston College and Pittsburgh are logical to think of, because of geographic proximity to Central New York and former Big East ties, but neither has crushed it on the court in recent stanzas.

Miami and Florida State are too far away, distance-wise. The same applies to Georgia Tech. Clemson, N.C. State and Wake Forest are entangled in rivalries with other teams in the Carolinas. Virginia and Virginia Tech have each other.

Louisville would prove a cool possibility, but the Cardinals already have a massive in-state rivalry with Kentucky. I also can’t see Notre Dame ever serving as a monumental rivalry for the ‘Cuse.

It pains me to say this, but Syracuse doesn’t have a natural rival at present. Georgetown is probably the closest thing to one, because of the two programs’ history together, and the fact that the Orange and the Hoyas continue to square off even after the ‘Cuse bolted for the ACC.

Connecticut is another possibility, because of the geographic closeness. The Huskies have also rejoined the Big East, so that gives a bit more juice to UConn versus Syracuse.

Within the ACC, the Orange’s best bet is likely Pittsburgh, assuming the Panthers can regain their status as an elite group under current head coach Jeff Capel.

As far as in-state rivalries go, well, the ‘Cuse doesn’t play St. John’s much these days. No disrespect to Colgate and Cornell – and even Buffalo – but those squads don’t quite have the panache to create influential rivalries on a national scale.

So Syracuse doesn’t have a clearly defined basketball rival for now. It is what it is. Hopefully, that will change down the road.