Friday, March 11, 2011

Syracuse & Connecticut: Did You Know We've Met Before?

What a game yesterday as two teams battled for "New York's College Team" bragging rights inside Madison Square Garden. St. Johns, who plays their home games in MSG versus Syracuse, who plays their "home" games in MSG.

After forty minutes of battle on Thursday afternoon in the Quarter Finals of the Big East Tournament, the Syracuse Orangemen prevailed behind 22 points from Brandon Triche and 12 points from Fab Melo (a career high).

With the score tied 68-68 and 2:24 remaining in regulation, Fab Melo decided that now would be a good time to take over. Melo scored four of Syracuse's next six points, including a layup with 31 seconds left to put the Orangemen up by 4, and Brandon Triche continued to be money from the foul line to ice the win for Syracuse.

St. Johns was up 5 at halftime, however in the second half Triche and Joseph helped will the Syracuse squad to victory. Triche was a perfect 8/8 from the foul line, including 4/4 in the last 18 seconds of the game to seal the victory.

Rick Jackson just missed another double-double, finishing with 10 points and 9 rebounds, along with 4 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks. Six of Jackson's ten points came in the last 7:13 of the game. Jackson came up big when Syracuse needed him most, just like you would expect your senior leader to do.

Earlier in the day, Kemba Walker sent UCONN into the semi-finals with a game winning buzzer beater as time expired to knock off #3 Pittsburgh 76-74. The bucket gave Walker 24 points in the game and put Syracuse and Connecticut on a collision coarse to meet tonight at 7PM in the Semi-Finals of the Big East Tournament.

Now, some of you may remember a little game that was played way back in 2009 that featured these two teams on the very same court. Eric Devendorf, the poster child for good behavior, drilled a three pointer as time expired to give Syracuse what appeared to be an epic, epic victory over the hated Huskies.

After a long review it was determined that Devo did not get his shot off in time and the bucket was wiped, sending both teams into overtime. Personally, I feel that if the game clock went to hundredths of a second (0.01) the shot would have counted. Be that as it may, that unbelievable shot set the stage for the greatest game in Big East Tournament history.

Now I'm not sure how many times ESPN will be flashing the highlights from that fateful night between now and the 10 hours that lead up to game time, but I'm sure that it's going to be often! Not to mention the number of times it will be referenced during the game! Any time the score is tied in the second half, the ESPN talking heads will surely say "better not walk away we may have another six overtime game here!"

After the third overtime, it was apparent that whoever lost that game was going to live with it for the rest of their lives. If you win, you're selling t-shirts, DVDs, hats, and going on David Letterman. If you lose, than every single time someone talks about the six overtime game you are going to hang your head and talk about what might have been.

Johnny Flynn declared for the draft shortly after and got himself into the NBA Lottery, mainly because of his performance on that night. The next few weeks all anyone could talk about was the epic six overtime finish in the Garden. Syracuse became the nations darling. Everyone was picking them for the Final Four and the country fell in love all over again with Jim Boeheim.

And now we meet again. Will it go to six overtimes? Most likely not. Will it be a nail-bitter down to the wire? Quite possibly. The only time these two teams met this year was in Hartford, CT when then #17 Syracuse was in the midst of a four game losing streak and Connecticut was ranked #7 in the country coming off a six game winning streak that was just ended by a double overtime loss to Louisville.

Today at 7PM in Madison Square Garden Syracuse and Connecticut will tip off at 7PM and then 30 minutes after whenever that game ends Notre Dame will meet Louisville in another game that's sure to be a classic. What a night we have coming up at Madison Square Garden!

Get your popcorn ready!

photo courtesy of