Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It'll Never Be the Same Georgetown-Syracuse End Big East Rivalry

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It'll Never Be the Same Georgetown-Syracuse End Big East Rivalry

Article excerpt

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Jim Boeheim slowed as he pedaled the stationary bicycle inside the sparkling new Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, his mind racing back more than three decades.

"It was the premier rivalry during the history of the Big East," Boeheim said as he contemplated the end of an era. "At one time, for a 10- or 15-year period, it was probably the No. 1 rivalry in the country. It's had a lot of emotional games, a lot of close, tough, hard battles right down to the end. It's really been a great rivalry for both schools."

Boeheim was talking about Georgetown-Syracuse, a rivalry unmatched in its heyday in the 1980s when the Big East Conference was in its infancy. A rivalry that will have a different feel after this season when Syracuse leaves to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"It's not the same when you're not in the same league," Boeheim said. "It will never be the same."

The teams have played 87 times since 1930, and 20 games have been decided by two points or less, 39 by five or fewer, and 12 reached overtime.

They meet for the final time as conference members today in the Carrier Dome.

That's the reason students have been camped out all week to be part of an NCAA on-campus record crowd of 35,012 that will transform the stands surrounding Jim Boeheim Court into a raging sea of orange.

The special feeling for the home fans can be traced to a snowy February night in 1980, when former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. became the man Syracuse fans came to despise.

The Big East had formed May 31, 1979, with Syracuse, Georgetown, Boston College, Connecticut, Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall as charter members.

Boeheim was in his fourth season the Orange's coach and on the fast track to stardom with 95 wins on his brief resume when the Hoyas came to town Feb. 13, the eve of the opening ceremonies for the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.

It was the end of an era then, too -- the last game in the imposing atmosphere of Syracuse's Manley Field House. …

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