The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

Sibling Rivalry: The story of NKU vs Wright State

Hailey Roden
Keeyan Itejere in action

A packed Truist Arena witnessed the NKU Norse take on their local conference rival Wright State, as well as homecoming Sunday afternoon.

Students in the 2024 homecoming court were recognized at Sunday’s game in Truist Arena.

Northern Kentucky University is a relatively new team to the Horizon League having joined the conference in 2015. Whilst their rivals Wright State have been on-going members dating all the way back to 1994.

The Norse and Raiders have fought closely over the last nine years, with both teams known power houses in the conference. The head-to-head stood 8-10 to Wright State before today’s game, the Raiders clinching a home win of 65-83 last year.

NKU has won the Horizon League four times since 2015, with Wright State being the only other team to clinch the title multiple times in 2018 and 2022.

Dr. Joe Cobbs, a professor of sports business in the Haile College of Business at NKU,takes a special interest in rivalries within sport, beginning the “Know Rivalry” project in 2013.

The mission of the project is to “facilitate sustainable collaboration in the research production, discernment and dissemination of knowledge about rivalry.”

Data is collected from fans of specific teams, who are asked to complete a survey. The survey allocates 100 rivalry points to the respondent, who must allocate points to any known opponent within their team’s league/sport. 

According to Cobbs’ data, “NKU fans allocate 55 of their points to Wright State, with the other 45 divided amongst other colleges” on average.

Wright State fans also value the rivalry highly, allocating 59 points on average to NKU.

Victor Viking with a packed student section

This data is currently unavailable on the Known Rivalry website, as they have only collected data from over 200 teams in college basketball and must reach 80% of all teams before they are able to publish the data on college basketball rivalries.

Cobbs also designed SPB 200, the Rivalry and Rituals with International Sport course in 2014. It went on to become a general education credit class in 2017 under cultural pluralism. 

When analyzing rivalry, Cobbs likes to look at it like a recipe. What factors play a part in creating and culminating the specific rivalry?

“I think that geographic proximity is a main factor for the rivalry as well as consistency of play and competitiveness,” said Cobbs when asked about NKU and Wright State’s rivalry.

This close geographic proximity allowed for Wright State fans to travel from Dayton to Truist Arena for the loud and physical clash Sunday afternoon.

Wright State bench

“It’s really important to the fans, a good turnout today which made for a great atmosphere for college basketball. It’s because of the history, proximity and they’re usually good games,” said Coach Horn about the rivalry.

The Norse would go on to lose 78-85 against the Raiders bringing their losing streak to three and their record against Wright State to 8-11. 

The physical contest would see constant momentum shifts, and the Norse would dip in the remaining minutes. “We just lost our confidence, there’s just no room for doubt in this game. We missed a few shots and we just looked like we wavered in our confidence,” said Coach Horn.

When asked how he plans to coach the players through this confidence loss Horn responded, “Just trying to encourage them in timeouts. For us it’s mostly in the game, living and dying by the last play. You’ve got to get to the next play and be aggressive whether it’s going good or bad.”

Senior Marques Warrick would once again deliver for the Norse, scoring 20 points.

Graduate student Michael Bradley, now fully recovered from the flu, also posted a good performance with 17 points scored.

“I feel great, good to be back to 100%. Obviously we wanted to end today with a win, but we just have to bounce back and respond on Thursday,” said Bradley.

The Norse now 6-6 for their conference season are set to host conference leaders Oakland on Thursday, Feb. 8.

The game will begin at 7 p.m. and also be broadcast live on ESPN+.

The Know Rivalry data and survey can be accessed at this link: