Syracuse Embarks on Record Setting Day, Leaving Big East with a Bang

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With only five games to go in the Big East regular season, Saturday’s matchup between No. 11 Georgetown at No. 8 Syracuse is set to be one for the ages.

Take away the legendary rivalry between the two programs (which the Orange lead 48-39), as well as the fact that the Carrier Dome will have a (college hoops) record crowd of 35,012 on hand. This is a meeting of of the top two teams in the Big East.

Well, sort of.

The top of the Big East is actually currently occupied by three teams, with No. 17 Marquette also sporting a 10-3 record in the conference. What do you know, after Saturday’s showdown with the Hoyas, ‘Cuse will travel to Milwaukee to take on the Golden Eagles on Monday night.

After losing back-to-back games against Villanova and Pittsburgh, Syracuse is back on a roll, having won four of their last five games, and also having the luxury of incorporating James Southerland, their best interior scoring option, back into the lineup. In his four games since having his eligibility reinstated, Southerland has averaged nearly 15 points a game, but more importantly, has given a team that was struggling their identity back.

Georgetown and Marquette are obviously two incredibly tough teams, as they’ve both had to overcome major losses to their roster and are still in prime position to win the Big East. Georgetown has won 10-of-11 games after opening the Big East season at 0-2, including a one-point overtime loss at the hands of Marquette.

Even though the Orange end their Big East tenure with four games against top-20 teams (including the Hoyas twice), they’re riding a 38-game home winning streak, and play three of their final five games at home. Unfortunately, the two road games consist of the previously mentioned upcoming matchup with Marquette, and the season finale at Georgetown.

For the time being, let’s focus on Saturday’s marquee matchup, as Syracuse and Georgetown have accounted for more crowds of 30,000-plus at the Carrier Dome than all other series. According to Syracuse.com, Saturday’s game will be the 72nd game with a crowd of more than 30,000 in the Dome’s history and the 17th time that Georgetown has been the opponent in such a scenario.

Georgetown is really comfortable running their offense through the lean and lanky Otto Porter, and running their shooters through screens for his distribution, when they’re not feeding big man Greg Whittington down low, that is.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Orange, who haven’t exactly been great at containing opposing bigs, will have answers for Porter and Whittington, but at the same time, the wing combination of Brandon Triche, Michael Carter Williams, and C.J. Fair, should be able to penetrate and get plenty of mid-range looks.

This is shaping up to be another memorable day in Syracuse’s Big East farewell tour, but Jim Boeheim’s team has a lot more on their plate than this match up.

One game at a time.

For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth

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