Rivalry week, and St. John's gets Louisville?!
This week, ESPN is plugging "Rivalry Week", including tonight's requisite Duke/ North Carolina game. Seton Hall and Rutgers have played. Michigan and Michigan State has played.
ESPN might have had some influence on that schedule; or maybe Duke and UNC always just happen to play in the same week. I can't tell you for certain.
Farther down the rivalry totem pole, St. John's gets Syracuse early in the week - a longtime rival - and... Louisville?
St. John's history with the Cardinals goes back to 1978, where Lou Carnesecca's Redmen lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Louisville, led by Denny Crum. In total, St. John's is 4-10 against Louisville's college basketball team.
That doesn't make for much of a rivalry, no matter how much coach Rick Pitino likes to muse about the status of St. John's and mistakes they've made in the last 20 years.
A better rival that at least some of the die-hards might care about? Villanova or Seton Hall, teams the Red Storm has been playing since 1909. Villanova has faced St. John's 106 times; Seton Hall, 88.
On Louisville's side, besides the recent rivalry/ struggles with Notre Dame, who could be their rival? An old Conference USA member like Marquette?
Tomorrow's game is a chance for the Red Storm to tap into their potential and grab a marquee win to help NCAA Tournament consideration, and not much more. And a chance for Louisville to get past their five-overtime extravaganza against the Fighting Irish.
The team has two Big East wins against the Cards - in 2006 and in 2010, where the 12-10 Red Storm abused the Cardinal press for a runaway 74-55 MSG win on a snowy night behind D.J. Kennedy and Justin Burrell.
The Red Storm are 2-5 in the Big East against Rick Pitino's Cardinals, including an 83-63 pounding during the last trip to the KFC Yum! Center in 2011.
Last year, D`Angelo Harrison dropped 24 points in a losing effort in a 73-58 Madison Square Garden loss. You may remember the Red Storm shooting 5/35 from the field in the first half, negating their good defense against Pitino's team.
Steve Lavin won't be on the bench tomorrow as he is in California after his father, Cap Lavin's death; Rico Hines will once again coach and try to get the second-half effort from the players throughout the game.