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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Archive for the tag “Syracuse Orange”

In 2013, Louisville Again Proves Its Worth

#L1C4(Credits: www.gocards.com)

#L1C4
(Credits: http://www.gocards.com)

If any doubt still existed as to whether the University of Louisville was the right choice for membership into the Atlantic Coast Conference, those doubts were dashed on Saturday, March 16, 2013.

As I watched my beloved Cardinals struggle, persevere and then triumph against the Syracuse Orange in the last Big East Championship title game of the modern era, I couldn’t help but think about all the naysayers and detractors of Belknap’s athletic department as the ACC made its decision in 2012.

Louisville basketball has come a long way, to be sure. We were always the known unknown who entered and left conferences. From the Metro Conference to Conference USA to the Big East Conference, the pride of Louisville proved and proved and proved themselves to fans, outsiders and future conference brass by winning national titles and battling our way into Final Fours. When Rick Pitino was hired as head coach after legend Denny Crum wrapped up his career, fans instantly knew the future was bright and we would give our new coach as much time as he needed.

What we have accomplished as members of the Big East is still unfathomable in my eyes. I’m sure the Villanovas and Syracuses and Georgetowns and Connecticuts chided the decision to add us and others to their ranks and assumed they would continue to dominate the league. No one could have written the memorable storyline the Cardinals have produced since 2005.

Louisville became the winningest program since the realignment of 2005 and has now won its third conference basketball championship. As finalists of the tournament in four of the last five years, the Cardinals have continued to prove their worth on the hardwood.

2013 Big East Champions(Credits: www.bigeast.org)

2013 Big East Champions
(Credits: http://www.bigeast.org)

In football, Louisville has always faced an uphill challenge. Scheduling juggernauts like Alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame had been a difficult feat to claim, and recruiting the best players from around the country has never been our trademark. However, the football Cardinals made it their mission to always be satisfied with the progression of the program and to constantly improve from within.

Having won our two Bowl Championship Series matchups (2006 FedEx Orange Bowl and 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl), we put everything on the field when we are placed on the stage and told to perform.

When Coach Charlie Strong chose to extend his contract at Louisville rather than take the Tennessee job with the Southeastern Conference, fans surrounding the university knew what he thought about his current job and the institution. The sigh of relief throughout the River City came from fans who realized that our time had finally come to keep our coach and strive to maintain and surpass our accomplishments.

Although elevated, it is clear head coach Charlie Strong is not satisfied with the heights of the program under his tutelage. The invitation to the ACC combined with the fashion in which Louisville dealt the Gators the loss in the Sugar Bowl sent the city into overdrive.

Coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the 2013 Sugar Bowl victory(Credits: Getty Images)

Coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the 2013 Sugar Bowl victory
(Credits: Getty Images)

All we ask is for a chance to prove our worth. That is all we have ever wanted, and it appears we will soon get our chance once again in the prestigious ACC in 2014.

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Louisville to Face Rival Syracuse for Big East Title

Louisville unleashes its inner Cardinal(Credits: Madeline Hack)

Louisville unleashes its inner Cardinal
(Credits: Madeline Hack)

If someone had told me at the beginning of this season that our Louisville Cardinals would contend for back-to-back Big East Championship titles against a historic conference juggernaut in a matchup marking the storied history of the conference as it enters its waning days of existence, I would have thought that person had a great imagination.

Given the preseason hype surrounding this year’s squad, it’s not surprising we find ourselves right where we belong in the title chase.  Nor am I surprised our opponent comes in the form of our rival Syracuse.  However, no one could have predicted the changes the conference will undergo in the next year and that the final tournament would consist of a model foe versus a new foe.

Here’s how we got to the tournament final:

2013 Big East Championship(Credits: www.bigeast.org)

2013 Big East Championship
(Credits: http://www.bigeast.org)

Since joining the league in 2005, Louisville has continued traditional conference rivalries and acquired new ones.  Aside from the annual Cincinnati showdown, no other rivalry has meant so much or garnered as much attention as the yearly conflicts with the Syracuse Orange.  There is no doubt this rivalry will continue once both programs enter the Atlantic Coast Conference.

It is only fitting that this epic tournament final would be fought between a classic powerhouse and our Cardinals, the winningest Big East team since we entered the conference.  Both programs have built lasting legacies as Big East programs and the combination of wins and losses and coaching staffs have allowed us to stand out among other teams.

As preseason favorites to contend for the conference title, Rick Pitino and the Cardinals have not disappointed.  This conference final will be epic – I couldn’t ask for a better way to end an era than with a face-off between two great programs on the national stage.

Having split the first two meetings earlier this season in conference play, the Cardinals and Orange will settle the score under the lights of Madison Square Garden at 9 p.m. on Saturday.

#L1C4 – Louisville First, Cards Forever

Fast Forward: The ACC in 2016?

It’s 2016 and conference realignment has slowed down.  Again.  As most expected, the Atlantic Coast Conference has survived another round of unsubstantiated rumors and quasi-sourced reports from university big wigs and industry executives.  Overall, the past few years have proven quite productive in terms of membership and revenue.

A combination of ESPN affirming its financial commitment to the conference and the additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cincinnati and Connecticut have made way for a 16-team league which boasts a great amount of competitive talent, geographic diversity and athletic tradition.

The ACC now has eight teams competing in men’s lacrosse with Cincinnati, Louisville and UConn adding the niche sport to their athletic departments.  Six of the league’s baseball teams are firmly in the Top 25 and seven teams are regulars in the women’s basketball Top 25.

College football has gradually improved over the past two years.  The Seminoles and Tigers have continued their top-tier presence in the rankings and Virginia Tech, Louisville, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh add some needed depth to the conference schedule.  NC State, Connecticut and Syracuse are steadily improving, the Tar Heels are sanction-free and competitive and Georgia Tech has awoken from its talent slumber.

College basketball is absolutely phenomenal.  Along with the annual Tobacco Road matchup, Syracuse-UNC has become epic in its short existence and Pitt has become quite the foe of Duke, NC State and Virginia.  Much anticipated matchups between Duke and Louisville and Connecticut and North Carolina have also given way to intense conference-wide games with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.  The conference now boasts seven teams with national championship histories.

Although there is much competition among the field in both basketball and football, there is a great amount of talent at the top.  Many believe multiple ACC representatives will punch cards to the Final Four and there is guarded optimism a team will soon vie for the Coaches’ Trophy at Cowboys Stadium.

As with anything, it takes vision, determination and patience to see a great idea through to fruition.  The ACC is no different.  Fantasies often begin with unrealistic expectations while goals are accomplished through steady hard work and practical ambitions.

Congratulations, ACC!  You had the nerve and foresight to persevere and maintain your athletic tradition while maintaining and promoting solid academics.  The Confidential looks forward to many more years of ACC excellence.

**Is this article fantasy or realistic? Join the discussion below and let the Confidential know your opinion.

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