CINCINNATI – After 50 years, the Cincinnati vs. Louisville basketball rivalry may be ending this month.
"It would be a shame if we never played again,” UC coach Mick Cronin said. “Who knows what the future holds?”
Since Louisville joined UC in the Missouri Valley Conference in 1964, the two schools 105 miles apart have been almost joined at the hip. They have spent 46 of the last 50 years as conference rivals in the MoVal, Metro Conference, Conference USA, Big East and now the American Athletic Conference.
They have met 97 times on the basketball court counting UC's win in Louisville Thursday night, with Louisville leading the series 54-43.
Their football rivalry, with the Keg of Nails going to the winner, dates back to 1929.
But Louisville joins the Atlantic Coast Conference next fall, and that might end the basketball rivalry after Louisville's visit to Fifth Third Arena on Feb. 22.
UC and Louisville are not scheduled to meet on the court next season. But Cronin holds out hope out of getting together with Rick Pitino’s team again.
“It is something that I would love to continue to see. I think playing them would make us better," Cronin said.
“I have some ideas with multi-team events where we could each play three home games and then split U.S. Bank Arena or do a home and home like we did with NC State. I would be shocked if we never played again. I wouldn't even go down that road. It will probably be a matter of when."
Pitino said the Cardinals’ schedule is full for next season with non-conference matchups against his son’s Minnesota team, Indiana and Kentucky.
Beyond that, Pitino has already scheduled a home-and-home with Memphis for 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Pitino said UC could have had that deal if Cronin had asked first.
"Well, why would I ask because we were in the same league?" Cronin responded "There was no need to ask. They were already playing Memphis in a non-league game. They had already scheduled that series.“
And Pitino isn't about to add Cincinnati now, even though he did mentor Cronin and the two are good friends.
"Our schedule is virtually impossible,” Pitino said. “If it gets any tougher, we’re going to go into the Atlantic Division of the NBA.”