There are only three games left in the 2013 Big East Tournament before we blow it all up and start over.
Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville and Notre Dame are the last four teams that can win a Big East tournament title before members scatter all over the country. Some are headed to the ACC, the Catholic 7 will keep the Big East name while adding other new teams and those staying might have a new name altogether soon.
With only three games to leave a lasting legacy on a dying conference as we know it, the Big East is going to go out with a bang at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Syracuse and Georgetown will renew their rivalry on Friday night, two teams that have so much tournament and postseason experience that we take it for granted that they are going to be good next season already.
Louisville and Notre Dame are set to meet in the other semifinal match, two teams that treated us to a five-overtime game earlier this season and play different styles of basketball altogether. We've got you prepped with an updated look at the tournament bracket and the final four teams left in what's left of the Big East as we know it.
Oh, and don't forget that all four of these teams are in the Top 40 of the RPI rankings (via ESPN). Three of them (excluding the Irish) are in the Top 15.
Don't miss these final two days of action—they will be transcribed in conference history, wherever it sets up shop in the future.
Semifinal Game 1: No. 1 Georgetown vs. No. 5 Syracuse
When: Friday, March 15, at 7 p.m. ET
The 14th meeting between these two juggernauts will be the last time the Syracuse and Georgetown square off under the "Big East" name. The Orange are headed for greener pastures in the ACC, and Georgetown will join the Catholic 7 in making a new basketball-first conference that will retain the Big East label.
That should make this game one of the best of the entire season.
For starters, the game is loaded with talent. Syracuse has at least three guys (Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair and James Southerland) that could be going pro next season, and Georgetown has one of the best players in the nation in Otto Porter, Jr.
Georgetown holds a 2-0 advantage over the Orange this year, too, highlighted by a blowout win in the nation's capital after beating the Orange earlier in the season at the Carrier Dome in front of a capacity crowd.
There's a lot on the line in this one.
Southerland has set a Big East record with his 6-of-6 performance from the three-point line on Thursday, something Georgetown will try to limit in Friday's semifinal matchup.
Jim Boeheim and John Thompson III are both trying to be the last coach ever to win a championship in Madison Square Garden under the current format, so this should be a hotly-contested game that could turn physical very quickly.
Semifinal Game 2: No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 6 Notre Dame
When: Friday, March 15, at 9 p.m. ET
These two teams aren't likely going to play similar enough to treat us to yet another five-OT game in the final semifinal game of the 2012-13 Big East season.
They are playing well enough to make it must-see TV.
Pat Connaugton hit six three-pointers on Thursday night as Notre Dame downed the higher-seeded Marquette in the quarterfinals. Jerian Grant added 17 points, and Notre Dame's roller coaster ride of consistency continues heading into the tournament. However, a win in the Big East tournament would make them a dangerous team come March—the Irish thrive on emotion.
On the other side, expect Russ Smith to have this game circled on the proverbial calendar. He missed shot after shot in the first meeting between these two teams—many of which would have given Louisville the lead or the win in the closing seconds of each overtime period.
Smith had 28 points for the Cardinals on Thursday, and appears to be heating up at the right time for a game that is sure to draw attention from media outlets everywhere.
Rick Pitino will be his colorful self, and Mike Brey will continue to provide the kind of enthusiasm that makes it fun to watch college basketball year-in and year-out. It's going to be hard to top the physical, athletic play we'll get from the first final, but this one just might do it.
Louisville defends well, is a top-five NCAA team in steals per game and is going to have its hands full in defending the Irish from the three-point line—a stat that could very well decide which team moves on to the championship game in New York City.
Buckle up, folks. This Big East format isn't going out without some fireworks to remember.
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