Could this be the beginning of a Duke-Syracuse rivalry?

Tenting has long been a tradition associated with Duke basketball. But with a matchup with the Blue Devils looming, Syracuse students are following suit.
Tenting has long been a tradition associated with Duke basketball. But with a matchup with the Blue Devils looming, Syracuse students are following suit.

I have been at Duke for almost a year and a half now, and it has snowed one time. I remember exactly where I was when the first flake fell last January—in The Loop eating dinner with a friend. When I walked outside, there was maybe a half-of-an-inch of snow on the ground at most, but the entire campus was a ghost town. The bus schedule was a mess, all parties that night had been cancelled already and—my most vivid memory—there was a sign adorning the six stairs leading up to the chapel announcing “STAIRS CLOSED” in big, black letters. My friend and I felt rebellious and walked up them anyway.

The 2014 edition of the Annual Durham Snow Storm, however, has been hyped up much more than last year's. No matter where you went around Duke yesterday, I guarantee that someone was talking about the snow. Whether eating at the Penn Pavilion or braving the 19-degree weather stepping outside, the freezing cold had captivated conversations across campus.

The winter storm has also made its way to Krzyzewskiville, where Black Tenters have been living for 10 days now. The official K-ville policy is to call grace when temperatures reach below 25 degrees. Grace has already been called five times this tenting season, with the most recent being at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the impending snowpocalypse.

In Syracuse, N.Y., however, the low temperature was -4 degrees last night—and Boeheimburg was in full swing.

Boeheimburg is a miniature Orange-clad version of Krzyzewskiville, and has been re-established for the first time since last February's game against Georgetown. In anticipation for the Blue Devils' visit to the Orange Saturday, the first camper arrived at Gate E of Syracuse’s Carrier Dome on Jan. 19, the same day Black Tenting began in Durham.

Similarly to the line monitor system employed at Duke, Boheimburg is run by members of Otto’s Army—Syracuse's student section named after its mascot, Otto the Orange. As of yesterday, 26 groups of four people were in line to witness the first Blue Devil-Orange matchup with both teams as members of the ACC.

K-ville is only used to house tenters lined up for Duke-North Carolina and potentially one or two other big games each season. Similarly, Boheimburg is only operational during marquee matchups. When Syracuse was a member of the Big East, Georgetown and Villanova were the biggest attractions. The Blue Devils, however, are the first team this season for which Otto’s Army has braved the weather.

The fact that a legion of Orange fans is waiting in freezing weather to greet Duke when it travels to New York this weekend is not to be ignored. Which teams fans camp out for is a great indicator of who they consider their rivals—not necessarily their permanent rivals, but their rivals given the context at the time.

Even if they’re having a terrible season, the Blue Devils will always camp out for North Carolina, because of the proximity, tradition and enthusiasm inherent in the Tobacco Road rivalry. From Otto’s Army’s perspective, this weekend is as big of a deal as a Duke-North Carolina game. The Syracuse bookstore has gone as far as to sell three different "Beat Duke" T-shirts since the beginning of the school year.

The Blue Devils are not only perpetual contenders, one of the most hated teams in the NCAA and loaded with offensive weapons—they’re also now conference rivals with Syracuse. Duke and the Orange will meet again later in the season, again next year and again every single season for the foreseeable future.

But do arguably the two most consistent teams in the realigned ACC have enough to make them true rivals? Both squads have played well this season, as they do almost every year. After a 1-2 start in conference play, the Blue Devils have won five straight games, including a dominant 80-65 win against No. 18 Pittsburgh that showcased both their offensive power and depth. The Orange, meanwhile, are a perfect 19-0 and, other than two scary four-point wins against Miami and Pittsburgh, have won every ACC game by double digits.

Both Duke and Syracuse typically find themselves on brackets come March and are the fourth- and fifth-winningest Division I men’s basketball programs, respectively. Each has a legendary head coach—Mike Krzyzewski is the winningest coach in Division I men's history with 974 wins, but is followed hot on his coattails by Jim Boeheim with 939.

What makes Duke and Syracuse's potential rivalry unique, however, are the fans camping out in inclement weather to watch their basketball teams play. No, Boheimburg doesn’t have its own Wikipedia article yet, and the citizens of K-ville may not be sleeping in below-zero temperatures right now. But perhaps the Crazies and Otto’s Army will get to witness the Blue Devils and the Orange lay the foundation of a new ACC rivalry come this weekend.


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