Joining the Missouri Valley Conference has brought a series of new challenges to the Valparaiso men's basketball program. New opponents, new coaches, new arenas and new cities.
Valparaiso has had experience playing each new conference foe, some recently (Indiana State, Missouri State last season) and some in the distant past (Southern Illinois and Illinois State were last played in 1980-81).
With Valparaiso moving away from the Horizon League, and established rivals such as Oakland and Green Bay, the question is who will take up the throne as Valparaiso's new conference rival?
What makes a rival? Is it geographic location? The total amount of times two teams have played? The competitive nature of those games? Clear hatred?
In trying to sort out who Valparaiso could now call a rival, I ranked several factors on a scale of 1 to 9.
Distance -- In a recent Twitter poll conducted by my twitter feed @NWIOren, only 11 percent of the 321 respondents listed geographic location as the most important ingredient for a rivalry.
Total Games -- The Crusaders have played Indiana State and Evansville far more than programs such as Bradley and Southern Illinois. Perhaps familiarity can breed contempt.
Competitiveness -- I looked at how balanced the all-time series has been, not how well Valparaiso performed. The number listed is the distance in winning percentage from the series leader from .500. (Ex: Valparaiso has a 2-22 record against Northern Iowa, or a .417 distance from a .500 in winning percentage. Not very competitive) 40 percent of the Twitter poll respondents listed competitiveness as the primary ingredient in a rivalry.
Games in last 20 years -- DePauw was once a great rival for Valparaiso, but the teams haven't played in 35 years. It's not a relevant rivalry anymore. Playing recently helps gin up interest among the current fan base.
The Twitter poll respondents listed "hated" (47 percent) as the primary ingredient in a rivalry. The problem is, how does one quantify that? I went back through history to find a notable game against each new conference opponent that could be the starting point to some possible animosity between the fan bases.
Do you agree? Disagree? Send a message to email@example.com or hit me up at @NWIOren on Twitter.
(Editor's note: In cases where total points are equal, distance is the tiebreaker)