Big East Tournament: Syracuse out Cincinnati and Louisville in Title Game

Max RogersCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2012

AP photo
AP photo

The Syracuse Orange received their second loss of the season in a big upset (68-71) courtesy of the Cincinnati Bearcats. From the start of the semifinals game, top-seeded Syracuse could not contain the fourth-seeded Bearcats. Cincinnati's win ended the 11-game win streak of No. 2 Syracuse. 

The Bearcats now advance to the 2012 Big East tournament championship game where they’ll face Louisville. 

No. 2 Syracuse trailed Connecticut by eight points Thursday, before pulling off the 58-55 win. Against the Bearcats, however, the Orange were not so lucky. 

Cincinnati pulled off another upset Thursday by defeating No. 13 Georgetown, 72-70 in double overtime. 

They will now look to pull off their first Big East tournament title since they joined the conference in the 2005-2006 season.

Syracuse and Cincinnati last met in January when the Orange beat the Bearcats 60-53.

The Big East is predicted to send up to ten teams to the NCAA tournament including unranked Cincinnati and Louisville. No. 2 Syracuse, with only one loss in the regular season, was looking to dominate in the Big East tournament securing a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed. 

Cincinnati has made a total of 25 appearances in the NCAA tournament including two championships in 1961 and 1962. 

WASHINGTON - MARCH 19:  A Cincinnati Bearcats cheerleader performs during their game against the Connecticut Huskies during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Verizon Center on March 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob
Rob Carr/Getty Images

From 1957-1964 the Bearcats went on a tear accumulating 86-home court wins, before losing at home to Bradley. That home winning streak is the fourth longest in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history. 

If Cincinnati continues to play at the level it has been in the Big East tournament, the Bearcats could be a major threat in the "Big Dance." Any doubts about Cincinnati’s position in the NCAA tournament were clearly eliminated in the Big East tournament.

In the regular season the Bearcats played eight AP Top 25 opponents, with a win-loss record of  5-3—with wins over then-No. 22 Pittsburgh, then-No. 9 Georgetown, then-No. 13 Connecticut, then-No. 17 Louisville and then-No. 8 Marquette. 

Syracuse’s only regular season loss was to then-unranked Notre Dame. The Orange won all five of their games against AP Top 25 teams. Only one of those wins (72-68 against then-No. 10 Florida) was a non-conference win.

Syracuse still stands with one of the best resumes in the NCAA, although a Big East tournament title would have been the stamp on its claim for a No. 1 NCAA seed. However, it will not be a big surprise if Syracuse ends up with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament regardless of the loss to the Bearcats.

Cincinnati’s win over No. 2 Syracuse and No. 13 Georgetown will help the Bearcats in seeding come Selection Sunday. Wins over these two ranked teams gives Cincinnati the most wins over ranked teams in the NCAA this season.   

Before the 2012 NCAA tournament Cincy will first take on the Louisville Cardinals in the Big East tournament title game. Louisville pulled off its own upsets in the Big East tournament with wins over No. 9 Marquette and No. 23 Notre Dame. Louisville last won the Big East tournament title in 2009. 

Few would have predicted the Big East tournament title game would involve these two unranked opponents who last played each other on February 23. In that game the Bearcats beat the Cardinals 60-56.