March is finally here. It’s the second season, when a single game’s outcome can determine if you will be forever cheered or jeered. March is all about the drama: single game eliminations, final possessions, and Christian Laettner-esque buzzer beaters.
Thursday afternoon (2:00 p.m. ESPN) the Orange will be starting their second season in the familiar confines of Madison Square Garden in the quarterfinals of the Big East Men’s Basketball Championship.
The Orange arrive at this year’s tournament boasting a 25-6 record and are on a hot streak, winning their last five games. With their traditional 2-3 zone defense returning to its dominant form, and their offense clicking on all cylinders; the Orange are one of the favorites to cut down the nets in the Big Apple.
Ranked as the No. 4 overall seed in this year’s tourney, the Orange were able to secure a double-bye in which they were automatically advanced to the quarterfinals. The Orange will face the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between No. 5 seed St. Johns and No. 13 seed Rutgers.
Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Louisville are the other top seeds ranked in front of the Orange and potential opponents. However, since anything is possible in March – ask Georgetown as they were beaten by Ohio University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season – SU head coachJim Boeheim and his staff will have to game plan for any of the 11 possible teams they could face.
Pitt walks into Madison Garden as Big East regular season champs while possessing a 27-4 record and a victory over the Orange during their matchup in January. The Fighting Irish from Notre Dame could possibly be another opponent for the Orange as they are a favorite to win the tournament.
The Irish are also fighting for the opportunity to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse was victorious against the Irish earlier this season when they met on New Year’s Day. That was before Ben Hansbrough, who was just named the Big East Player of the Year, was just starting to find his groove.
Louisville is the No. 3 seed in this year’s tournament, and with Rick Pitino on the sideline and Preston Knowles on the court, the Cardinals won’t be an easy out for anybody.
However, the possible matchup with St. Johns could be a very pivotal game. The Orange defeated the Red Storm in January in MSG, but with the tournament being hosted on St. John’s home floor, things could get interesting as the Red Storm are one of the country’s hottest teams.
With five Big East Championship titles already under their belt, the Orange definitely know how to handle themselves in the big city. Even with the uncertainty of March looming, the Orange are hoping to return to Syracuse with trophy number six.
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