Notre Dame Basketball: 4 New Rivalries for the Irish in the Talent-Rich ACC
When people think of Notre Dame athletics, the first thing that comes to mind is the football program.
Obviously, this is for good reason. Touchdown Jesus, the aura surrounding the field, the golden helmets and even the tear-jerking movie Rudy conjure up memories of the historical excellence of one of the nation’s most polarizing and successful football powerhouses.
However, today’s news that the Irish will join the ACC as a full member with the exception of football probably has a bigger impact on basketball than any other sport.
For years, Notre Dame has played in the Big East when it comes to hoops and has developed passionate rivalries with schools such as Syracuse, Connecticut and Louisville.
But now that the Irish are set to join the ACC, plenty of new rivalries are on the horizon. Here are four of them.
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Admittedly, like so many other things with Notre Dame, this possible rivalry has its roots in football.
The famous “Catholics versus Convicts” showdowns that the University of Miami and Notre Dame had during the 1980s still have fans on both sides disliking the other one. In fact, it even had neutral fans who weren’t supporters of either program joining sides.
Either you disliked everything the Miami Hurricanes stood for or you couldn’t stand Notre Dame’s holier-than-thou attitude that always seemed to surround the program.
Well, look for that intensity to carry over a bit to the basketball court. With these two programs playing each other once to twice a season, it will be impossible for fans not to conjure up images of the “good guys” versus “bad guys” theme that always surrounded this rivalry.
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Speaking of programs that sometimes turn neutral fans against them with a holier-than-thou attitude, Notre Dame will have to deal with the Duke Blue Devils now that it is joining the ACC.
This may be the most natural rivalry on the list. It’s not as if the Irish aren’t used to traveling to hostile arenas as a road team coming from the Big East, but Cameron Indoor Stadium will be something new entirely.
And you can bet the “Cameron Crazies” will be chomping at the bit to welcome the new kids on the block to the conference.
Any team hoping to join the ACC and climb the ranks will have to go through Duke. As the Irish basketball program stands right now, it may have their work cut out for them.
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The other pillar outside of Duke serving as the sturdy base holding up the ACC basketball mansion is North Carolina.
The Tar Heels and Irish have one thing in common: Each program has one of the largest fanbases in the entire country in its corner. Anytime that happens, a natural rivalry is sure to be born.
Just as Notre Dame is going to have to go through Duke if it hopes to compete for ACC championships, it is going to have to find a way to start winning some games in Chapel Hill. Again, the Irish have played in plenty of hostile arenas in the Big East, but none of them had Michael Jordan’s jersey looming over them in the rafters.
Even if this rivalry does become somewhat antagonistic, my guess is the two fanbases will eventually be joined together by a mutual dislike of the Blue Devils.
North Carolina State
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If Notre Dame is just going to stroll into the ACC and hope to contend, it is going to have to deal with the up and coming Wolfpack.
In fact, until the news about the Irish broke, North Carolina State was demanding much of the offseason coverage in the ACC, even with off the court issues at powerhouses Duke and North Carolina.
Thanks to the return of superstar point guard Lorenzo Brown, many are picking the Wolfpack to win the ACC this season. If they do that, expect North Carolina State's fanbase to begin expecting sustained success so their program can continue to compete with its in-state rivals.
If the Irish think they are going to stand in the way of that, there probably won’t be any love lost between these two programs.