The Louisville–Virginia rivalry, or Virginia–Louisville rivalry, refers to a new Atlantic Coast Conference designated permanent rivalry between the Cardinals of the University of Louisville and Cavaliers of the University of Virginia. Before 2014, the two schools had not met in twenty-five years in either men's basketball or football, but had nationally televised men's basketball matchups in the 1980s under Denny Crum and Terry Holland. The new official rivalry has come about because of the departure of the Maryland Terrapins, Virginia's former official rival, from the ACC to the Big Ten Conference, and the addition of Louisville.
Virginia is an official rival of Louisville and Virginia Tech, whereas Louisville is a permanent rival of Virginia and Pittsburgh. This means that these teams play home-and-away series every year in basketball and baseball, and play each year in football. Against other ACC schools, they will play only once in most years for basketball and may not meet in baseball or football unless they are in the same division (Louisville is in the Atlantic division, Virginia in the Coastal division).
Before Louisville joined the ACC, the previous basketball games were played in Freedom Hall and University Hall. The two teams now play in new upgraded arenas which are two of the five largest in the 15-member ACC: the 14,593 capacity on-campus John Paul Jones Arena at U-Va. and the 22,090 capacity KFC Yum! Center located in downtown Louisville.
Louisville is an established major basketball power, with three National Championships (1980, 1986, and 2013) and ten Final Fours under its belt. Virginia is challenging for such notoriety with its two Final Fours and recent 2014 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament Championship and 30-win season. Approximately three months prior to Louisville joining the ACC on July 1, 2014, the two programs were both part of the Sweet Sixteen in the 2014 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Both programs are also major modern powers in college baseball, each being a part of the 2014 College World Series in which Virginia finished as runners up.
Virginia victories are shaded ██ orange. Louisville victories are shaded ██ red.
|February 13, 1924||Louisville, KY||Louisville||26||VIRGINIA||41||UVA 1–0|
|1947||Jefferson County Armory • Louisville, KY||LOUISVILLE||69||Virginia||43||Tied 1–1|
|January 24, 1982||Freedom Hall • Louisville, KY||#17 Louisville||56||#3 VIRGINIA||74||UVA 2–1|
|January 29, 1983||University Hall • Charlottesville, VA||#6 VIRGINIA||98||#8 Louisville||81||UVA 3–1|
|February 11, 1984||Freedom Hall • Louisville, KY||Louisville||45||VIRGINIA||50||UVA 4–1|
|February 9, 1985||University Hall • Charlottesville, VA||VIRGINIA||74||Louisville||65||UVA 5–1|
|January 4, 1989||Freedom Hall • Louisville, KY||#13 LOUISVILLE||74||Virginia||71||UVA 5–2|
|February 17, 1990||University Hall • Charlottesville, VA||Virginia||56||#18 LOUISVILLE||72||UVA 5–3|
|February 7, 2015||John Paul Jones Arena • Charlottesville, VA||#3 VIRGINIA||52||#9 Louisville||47||UVA 6–3|
|March 7, 2015||KFC Yum! Center • Louisville, KY||Louisville||Virginia||TBD|
ACC: Bennett vs. Pitino
With Louisville joining the ACC, the two programs are now peaking again as of 2015 under Tony Bennett and Rick Pitino. Hall of Famer Pitino has such respect for Bennett that he indicated his adversary may be the best coach in college basketball in his opinion. He showed his team tapes of Virginia's vaunted defensive scheme throughout the young 2014-15 season to motivate Louisville's own defensive efforts for months prior to #9 Louisville's first ACC matchup with #3 Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena.
Bennett and Pitino are both Italian-Americans coaching at Southern schools in the ACC, and they both have immediate family who are Division I coaches as well. Tony's father Dick Bennett coached Wisconsin to the Final Four in 2000 with Tony on staff, and Rick's son Richard Pitino was recently hired to replace Tubby Smith at Minnesota. They've discussed these family ties when out on the recruiting trail.
2015: #3 Virginia 52, #9 Louisville 47
The first game of the ACC series did not miss a beat from the 1980s matchups, as both squads came in ranked in the AP Top 10 and coming off successive defeats of North Carolina. #3 Virginia held #9 Louisville scoreless for over 12 minutes to span the halves, and used a closing 11–0 run to take a 24–13 halftime lead. Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell would mount a rally against a Virginia team that lost its leading scorer Justin Anderson to a finger injury early in the second half, however the Cavaliers made just enough key shots and free throws while their stifling defense held off the Cards. Virginia committed just two turnovers, the fewest caused by any Louisville team in Pitino's 488 games at the school. UVA won the game 52–47 to kick off the renewed series while taking a commanding lead of the conference at 9–1. That lead would get more tenuous after the game however when Virginia learned that it had lost Anderson to a fractured finger for at least the rest of the regular season. (Associated Press article)
1980s: Holland vs. Crum
Though the two programs were not part of the same conference until Louisville joined the ACC for the 2014-15 season, Virginia and Louisville had a bit of a rivalry in the 1980s. In fact, the two schools repeated a home-and-away series to match up during six of the final nine years of the Terry Holland era at UVA between 1982 and 1990. Virginia won the first four in 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985, while Louisville won in 1989 and 1990. These games were played during the winningest decade for both programs under Holland and Denny Crum, and featured such players as Ralph Sampson, Rodney McCray, Olden Polynice, Lancaster Gordon, Bryant Stith, and Pervis Ellison.
1982: #3 Virginia 74, #17 Louisville 56
Virginia, led by center Ralph Sampson, dictated the tempo of a game at Freedom Hall where he faced off with such athletic Louisville greats as Rodney McCray. His brother Scooter McCray grabbed ten rebounds, the same as Sampson, and Louisville overall outrebounded the Cavaliers 32–21. But Virginia held Louisville to 40% field goal shooting, while making over 50% of their own shots. Moreover, Virginia forced 16 Louisville turnovers and committed only 11 on their end. Jerry Eaves scored 21 for Louisville, but Sampson had 26 for Virginia, while future Virginia coach Jeff Jones added 17. The game was in some doubt until Virginia closed with an 18–6 run in the last five minutes of play. Despite the lopsided outcome of the game, Louisville would later advance to the Final Four while top-ranked Virginia would fall in a great upset to the UAB Blazers in the Sweet Sixteen. (Associated Press article)
1983: #6 Virginia 98, #8 Louisville 81
Sampson had one of the finest games of his college career, making a statement in a game between two Top 10 teams nationally televised from University Hall. Highly touted Louisville was never really in the game, as Sampson exploded for 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots while going 14-for-18 from the field. Louisville would have the last laugh, however, ending the season ranked #2 to Virginia's #3, and advancing to the Final Four for the second straight year while Virginia was upset again in an earlier round, this time by eventual champions NC State. Virginia would itself journey to the Final Four for the second time in four seasons the following year, without Sampson.
The Houston Rockets, with two of the top three picks in the 1983 NBA Draft, would take both Virginia's Sampson (#1 overall) and Louisville's McCray (#3 overall) after the end of the season, making the rivals new teammates in the NBA.
1989: #13 Louisville 74, Virginia 71
The Cardinals, not the Cavaliers, now enjoyed the services of one of college basketball's most celebrated centers in the late 1980s. Pervis Ellison quietly controlled the game down low against the Cavaliers, scoring 14 points, pulling down 7 rebounds, and blocking 4 Virginia shots. After freshman Bryant Stith pulled Virginia close with a three-point play late in the game, "Never Nervous" Pervis' own three-point play gave Louisville a five-point lead with a minute and a half to play, and highly ranked Louisville held on against an unranked Virginia team visiting Freedom Hall to beat Virginia for the first time since 1947.
- Virginia bowl history, accessed February 6, 2015]
- Louisville bowl history, accessed February 6, 2015
- Rick Pitino believes that UVA's Tony Bennett May Be the Nation's Best Coach, accessed February 6, 2015
- Defense the constant for No. 3 Virginia, No. 9 Louisville, accessed February 6, 2015
- Cavalier Insider: Scattershooting, accessed February 7, 2015
- Virginia ends brutal ACC stretch with thoroughbred response, accessed February 8, 2015
- Virginia loses star Anderson to a fractured finger, accessed February 9, 2015