Syracuse vs. Georgetown: The 5 Best Subplots in Big East Showdown
The Syracuse Orange and Georgetown Hoyas will meet for the 89th time on Saturday. The game at Verizon Center will be the last meeting between the two schools as members of the Big East. Syracuse is set to move to the ACC next season.
This is the second meeting in two weeks, as the schools met at the Carrier Dome on February 23. The Hoyas came out on top, 57-46. For the Orange, it was their lowest point output of the season.
Often referred to as one of the top rivalries in all of college basketball, the game is usually entertaining. While Saturday's matchup is important for both teams, the Hoyas are eying a regular-season Big East championship.
The teams enter the matchup heading in opposite directions.
Georgetown has been on a tear lately, winning 11 in a row before Wednesday's upset at Villanova. The Hoyas are currently fifth in the nation and are tied atop the Big East. Syracuse, on the other hand, enters as losers in three of its last five games. The Orange have played themselves out of a top NCAA tournament seed.
Undoubtedly, this will be a great game between two college basketball powerhouses. The following slides highlight five storylines to watch in this Big East finale.
Will Syracuse End the Losing Skid vs. Ranked Opponents?
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The last month has not been good to the Orange. After being ranked as high as No. 3 in late January, they now have six losses in their last 11 games and have fallen to No. 17 in the poll.
Syracuse has a three-game losing streak to ranked opponents. The Orange have lost to Georgetown, Marquette and Louisville since February 22.
This matchup will be a big one for so many reasons. It will be important for the Orange to end the regular season on a positive note heading into postseason play. If they can pull off the upset, it will be a signature win that could impress the NCAA tournament selection committee.
There's no doubt that Syracuse's tournament seeding has taken a hit in recent weeks.
Ending the regular season with four consecutive losses to ranked opponents would not look good to anybody.
Can Georgetown Make a Case for a No. 1 Seed for the NCAA Tournament?
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The Hoyas enter the matchup as one of the hottest teams in the nation. Even with the recent loss to Villanova, they still have a shot at a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
Georgetown was not thought of as a top team to start the year. In fact, the Hoyas were not even ranked when the season tipped off. They cracked the Top 25 for the first time after a 72-50 win over Mount Saint Mary's on November 24. They fell out of the rankings in mid-January after back-to-back losses to Marquette and Pittsburgh.
That's when things started to turn around, as the Hoyas have lost just once since that time.
The Hoyas have a strong tournament resume that includes five wins over ranked opponents, including then-No. 5 Louisville and road victories at then-No. 24 Notre Dame and Syracuse when the Orange were ranked eighth.
There's a log jam at the top of the poll, with every team except for Gonzaga having at least four losses. Six of the top 10 teams have five losses on the year.
It's still a wide-open race to see who lands the top four spots come tourney time.
A victory over the Orange could be enough to move Georgetown closer to one of the top seeds for the NCAA tournament.
Will Otto Porter Jr. be Named Big East Player of the Year?
Georgetown forward Otto Porter Jr. has emerged as one of the best players in the Big East Conference. The game against Syracuse will be another opportunity to showcase his skill on a national stage.
Earlier in the year, it was Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams who was grabbing all of the attention and dominating the conversation of best player in the conference. However, with the Orange struggling, the door was opened for others to enter the race.
It's safe to say that Porter Jr. should now be considered the front-runner as he has helped the Hoyas transform into a championship contender.
While he averages 16.6 points a game for the season, that number has been much higher as of late. In the last five games he surpassed 20 points three times, including a season-high 33 against Syracuse on February 23.
He also pitches in on the glass, leading the team with 7.6 rebounds a game.
If Porter Jr. can put up another big game against the Orange, he will need to be strongly considered for the Big East Player of the Year honor.
Who Will Win the Rematch?
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On February 23, the Georgetown Hoyas ended Syracuse's 38-game home winning streak with a 57-46 victory. Although the game was in front of a record crowd, the Orange failed to impress.
Though Syracuse jumped out to a 12-4 lead to start the game, the Hoyas seemed to have control early on as the Orange had difficulty making shots, especially from the outside.
At the end of an ugly half by both teams, Syracuse held the 23-21 lead.
Georgetown took over in the second half, led by star forward Porter Jr. He finished the game with a career-high 33 points. If there's a concern, it's the fact that no other Hoya scored in double digits.
The Orange will look to improve on their poor performance the first time around. Starting guards Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams combined for just 17 points. Triche really struggled, shooting just 30.8 percent from the floor, including one of seven from long range.
Regardless of the outcome, this one should be a hard-fought, competitive game.
Is This Really the End?
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With Syracuse heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, this historic rivalry seems to be coming to an end.
Easily one of the best rivalries in college basketball history, it will be sad to see it go. The names of Patrick Ewing, Pearl Washington and Michael Graham are just some of those involved in moments from this rivalry that will live on in college basketball lore.
Over the years, Syracuse and Georgetown have both been successful. Part of what makes this rivalry great is the fact that there's usually conference implications riding on the outcome.
Such was the case the first time this year, as both teams were tied for the Big East lead when they met on February 23rd.
Both coaches have stated that they would want to see the game continue in the future.
While the two schools could certainly schedule each other as out-of-conference opponents, the game likely wouldn't have the same meaning.