Big East Tournament: Kemba Walker's Game-Winner Sets Up UConn-Syracuse Rematch

Perry SchwartzCorrespondent IIIMarch 10, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10:  Shabazz Napier #13 and Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Panthers during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters  at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

With the score tied at 74 and just seconds remaining, Kemba Walker of Connecticut stepped back and knocked in a 15-footer at the buzzer, as the Huskies beat Pittsburgh in the third round of the Big East Tournament.

Walker's game-winner against Pittsburgh was just one of several big shots he has made this season, and it sets up a game against Syracuse in a rematch of 2009's epic six-overtime battle.

"Everybody was excited, you know? Coming into this game we're the underdogs, everyone saying we're going to lose," Walker said. "But everyone stayed together, and we came out with this victory. Everyone was excited, so I guess they just jumped on me."

After losing five consecutive games in the Big East Tournament going back to 2005, this was UConn's third tournament win in as many days. Despite entering the tournament in the bottom half of the Big East bracket, UConn is now one of just four teams left.

But with so many good teams in the Big East, seeding only tells a small part of the story. 

The conference may get as many as 11 teams into the tournament, which is incredible considering the record is eight, held by none other than the Big East in both 2006 and 2008.

When Syracuse plays UConn tomorrow, fans and players will without a doubt have memories of Syracuse beating Connecticut 127-117 in six overtimes, the longest game in Big East history.

That game took 3 hours and 46 minutes, not ending officially until 1:22 a.m. in Madison Square Garden. There were 244 points scored in that game, 102 of which came after regulation.

The numbers are even more absurd the deeper you get; eight players fouled out, and six registered double-doubles.

In that game, UConn took the lead in each of the first five overtimes, but gave it up every time.

As opposed to 2009 when the Huskies were the No. 3 seed and favored against the sixth-seeded Orange, UConn will be the underdog when the teams meet Friday. Syracuse is currently the No. 4 seed in the Big East, while UConn is No. 9.

If Syracuse can beat UConn and then win the Big East Tournament finale on Saturday, they will likely be the No. 2 seed in the tournament or a potential No. 1.

Meanwhile, a UConn win over Syracuse all but guarantees the Huskies a trip to the NCAA tournament, while two wins should earn them a seeding somewhere between a No. 6 and a No. 3.

If UConn and Syracuse end up tied at the end of regulation Friday, you can bet everybody watching the game will be anticipating another six-overtime duel.

In the team's only meeting since that tournament, Syracuse beat UConn 66-58 in early February this year.