The last game in Big East regular season history for Syracuse was a 61-39 loss to the archrival Hoyas at the Verizon Center. Jim Boeheim’s squad has rarely looked as inept as it did today, as Georgetown stamped its authority on the last regular season under the Big East’s current configuration. The Hoyas played solid D and the Orange couldn’t buy a bucket when they needed it, shooting 31%, including 1-11 from three point land.
The crowd of 20,972 was the largest for college basketball in the DC metro area’s history, and included former legends of the rivalry like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Gerry McNamara. The Hoyas proved they are much more than just national player of the year candidate Otto Porter, shooting lights out from downtown in a dominant performance. Guards Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera combined to hit 8 three pointers, repeatedly firing up the record crowd. The student section was lively throughout, waving flags, witty signs, and a giant Porter head. It was an unforgettable day for the Georgetown faithful as one of the best rivalries in college basketball came to an – at least temporary – end.
Syracuse departs with others to the ACC next season, but Georgetown will live on with the new Big East and headline a group that includes historically strong basketball programs like Marquette, Villanova, St. John’s, and possible new additions Butler and Xavier. Porter is all but gone as he figures to be an NBA lottery pick, but assuming the rest of the squad stays, Georgetown should certainly be able to compete for another Big East title next year. Starks, Smith-Rivera, and senior-to-be Nate Lubick will form the core of next season’s Hoyas, along with big men Mikael Hopkins, Moses Ayegba, and new recruit Reggie Cameron. Forward Greg Whittington will hopefully return from this year’s full-season suspension to round out the squad.
Marquette and Louisville grabbed a share of the regular season title with wins today, but Georgetown locked up the top seed for the Big East tournament, and could still be in line for a NCAA tourney number one seed, depending on how things play out next week. Despite the ceremony surrounding the end of an era game, these two teams could see each other again as early as next Friday if the seeding works out. To add a Big East Tournament title to the regular season banner, Georgetown will need to bring its game from today and not the form they showed in a loss at Villanova earlier in the week.
It won’t be easy though, not with a group that has been the best basketball conference in the country for the better part of the last decade. A tourney loss for the the Hoyas to Syracuse would surely sweeten the bitter taste in Orange fans’ mouths from the last two meetings. Additionally, Georgetown must be wary of Pittsburgh, who beat the Hoyas by almost 30 points earlier in the year, and Louisville, who fell just short at the Verizon Center in January and will be out for revenge. It looks to be an excellent tournament at Madison Square Garden next week to close out the current Big East era.