In what is clearly the most important rivalry in all of sports, the No. 11 Hoyas (20-4, 10-3 Big East) travel to the Carrier Dome for the last time in Big East play to face the No. 8 Syracuse Orange (22-4, 10-3 Big East) today at 4 p.m. This matchup is not only for bragging rights, but will play a critical role in determining the winner of the Big East title. The Hoyas are tied with Syracuse and Marquette atop the conference standings and have a chance to cut the group to two with a win today.
While Syracuse is the only team that controls its own destiny in winning the conference outrightly, the Hoyas can tie for the top spot by winning out, assuming Marquette does the same. Both teams are going into the game with confidence. The Hoyas, as we know, are riding an 8-ame winning streak, while the Orange have not lost at home in 38 games. The game has sold out, anticipating a crowd of 35,012, the largest ever at any NCAA college basketball game.
The Hoyas are coming in hot, riding their longest winning streak of the season. This run has not been against pushover teams as the seven-game streak in non-conference play was. The Hoyas have beaten Notre Dame, Louisville, Marquette, and Cincinnati and have dismissed the lesser teams in the Big East without drama, something that the Blue and Gray often fail to do as expected. Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. and junior guard Markel Starks have produced as expected over the streak, averaging 16.7 and 14.3 points per game, respectively. Porter did not play in much of Wednesday’s game against DePaul, but the offense was still able to move effectively, putting up a season-high 90 points. Most impressive was freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who scored 33 points, the highest scoring total for Hoya player since Chris Wright scored 34 against Harvard in 2009. Smith-Rivera’s prowess could be a jump start for the Hoya offense that often goes stagnant.
Notable factors for the Orange will be senior guard and leading scorer Brandon Triche, who has scored 14.9 points per game this season, and sophomore guard and bathrobe thief Michael Carter-Williams who has averaged 12.7 points per game and is the team’s leading assist man, averaging 8.2 per game.
With the rivalry coming to an end, the stakes will be even higher than usual. Said Porter Jr. of the game, “It means a lot… For us, with the last game in the Dome, its huge, we definitely want to come out and win. We’re going to be extra focused when we go up there.”
When asked if he would be sad to see the end of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry, Head Coach John Thompson III said, “Sad? No. It’s life. Everything is an evolutionary thing.” Sad or not, this game is sure to leave a historical mark in both program and conference history.
File Photo: Miles Gavin Meng/Georgetown Voice (Feb. 20, 2013, vs. DePaul)