Top 3 Basketball & Football Opponents Louisville Fans Want To See
As we all sit around quarantined in our homes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, waiting and hoping that a sense of normalcy as well as sports will return sometime in the near future, all we do can as writers & fans alike is speculate and project. That includes what would have transpired had sports had not been put on an indefinite hiatus, as well as future events later on down the line when athletes from all walks of life can return to playing they games they love.
During this time, I had an idea and decided to ask Cardinals fans as to what non-conference program they would want to see Louisville face on the hardwood and gridiron alike. After holding a fan vote, LouisvilleReport.com presents to you the Top 3 basketball & football opponents you guys want to see.
Receiving Votes: Bellarmine, Connecticut, DePaul, Florida, Gonzaga, Houston, Indiana, Iona, Kansas, Marquette, Maryland, USC, Vanderbilt, Villanova, West Virginia.
No. 3 - UCLA Bruins: It makes an enormous amount of sense for Louisville to pencil in the Bruins on a future schedule. First of all, it would not be short on storylines. Former Louisville men's basketball head coach Denny Crum played at UCLA and was an assistant under John Wooden for eight seasons before coming to Louisville. Crum also won his first national title against his alma mater and former mentor in 1980. Even today, a potential matchup with the Bruins would be nationally relevant. UCLA is currently led by former Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin, who current Louisville head coach Chris Mack has faced numerous times while at Xavier. In case you were not aware, Cincinnati and Xavier don't exactly have a warm and fuzzy history.
No. 2 - Memphis Tigers: It's hard to tell the complete story of Louisville Men's Basketball without at some point mentioning Memphis State. The Cards and Tigers have faced each other a total of 90 times, the second-most for each school (Louisville - Cincinnati, Memphis - Southern Miss). Since first squaring off in 1949, the schools have followed each other through four different conferences, with plenty of memorable & infamous moments along the way such as:
- Fred Horton swinging a chair in 1972 regular season finale
- A switchblade being thrown onto the court in 1982 while Rodney McCray shot a free throw
- Darius Washington misses 2/3 free throws in 2005 Conference USA Championship
This was one of many rivalries across the country claimed by conference realignment, and it's not surprising to see fans want to face the Tigers once more. Even current Tigers coach Penny Hardaway is open to renewing the rivalry.
No. 1 - Cincinnati Bearcats: Yet another rivalry lost to the mid-2010's conference realignment. Louisville has faced Cincinnati more so than any other school in their program's 106 year existence, facing off a total of 99 times from 1921 to 2014. However once the Cards bolted to the Atlantic Coast Conference and left the Beacats in the AAC, the rivalry was put on an indefinite hiatus. While the rivalry against UC was nerve quite on par with the one against the Wildcats, it was still a game Louisville fans were always quick to circle on the calendar.
Receiving votes: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, LSU, Memphis, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, USC, Wisconsin.
No. 3 - Michigan Wolverines: When you have a program as old as Michigan, you would think that at some point in their 141-year history that they would have crossed paths with Louisville. While the Wolverines and Cardinals have their recent history on the hardwood, they have never once met on the gridiron. I believe a desire to face Michigan stems from not only the chance to face them for the first time and potentially strengthen a season resume, but also the opportunity to travel to Michigan Stadium in a theoretical home-and-home series. Even as a sportswriter and fan of college football in general, going to the Big House is on my bucket list.
No. 2 - West Virginia: The Cardinals and Mountaineers don't have the deepest of histories, as they have only played each other 13 times and just 7 times in the last two decades. But when you look at those few games, it's not hard to understand why fans want to see West Virginia once more on the gridiron. Their first two Big East battles quickly sparked one of the fiercest new rivalries in college football. In 2005, the Mountaineers overcame a 24-7 fourth quarter deficit to win 46-44 in triple overtime thanks to then-backup Pat White. The next season in a top 5 matchup at Cardinal Stadium, Brian Brohm and Co. got their revenge in a 44-34 win that many fans have believe is the biggest Louisville Football game in school history. Unfortunately thanks to the beginning of conference realignment, the Cards and Mountaineers have not met since a 38-35 upset of #24 WVU in Morgantown during the 2011 season.
No. 1 - Cincinnati: No surprise, the Bearcats land at the top spot for football as well. Like in basketball, Louisville has faced Cincinnati more than any other school in program history with 53 all-time meetings (UC leads 30-22-1). Also like in basketball, conference realignment made sure that the battle for The Keg of Nails was put on the back-burner. With recent success towards the end part fo the rivalry thanks to the valiant efforts of Teddy Bridgewater and Charlie Strong, it's easy to see why fans want to resume play with Cincinnati. Especially now that the Bearcats are relevant once again and seem to be poised to keep it that way.
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