Featured Photo Credit: SUAthletics.com
When Syracuse and Georgetown square off this Saturday evening, it will be in front of the largest on-campus crowd in the history of college basketball. It is a match up of two first place Big East teams. Carmelo Anthony will be in the house for his jersey retirement ceremony. There will be a reunion for the 2003 national championship team. The atmosphere will be electric, unlike anything ever seen before inside the Dome for the Orange faithful.
But yet, leading up to this Carrier Dome conclusion with the Hoyas many fans can’t help but feel a little sad. Sure, Syracuse and Georgetown are looking to extend the rivalry after this season. We may see Syracuse play each other once a year annually in the coming seasons, but it just isn’t the same.
The only example I can refer to is Penn State football. Growing up, I’ve been trained that everything Penn State football is bad. We despise them, and hope they lose every game they play. But yet, when we played them during the Greg Robinson era, I couldn’t help but feel blah about playing them. Sure, I wanted Syracuse to win, but losing to Penn State didn’t sting me nearly as much as it the generations before me. Being born in 1989, I simply wasn’t around for the glory days when Syracuse would play Penn State every year.
Unfortunately, that’s where I see this rivalry going as well.
It really is a shame that this had to happen, especially considering all the great memories for one of the most intense rivalries in the country. From Big John Thompson’s ejection, to Kris Joseph’s three pointer in overtime, the Carrier Dome have seen some absolutely epic moments in it’s history of the rivalry. Syracuse fans have been able to see some basketball legends go to war with one another on Jim Boeheim Court. Derrick Coleman, Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, Sherman Douglas, Michael Graham, Pearl Washington, Alonzo Mourning, Gerry McNamara, Dikembe Mutombo, Carmelo Anthony, just to name a few.
The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry has been alive and intense for as long as I’ve been alive. No game on the schedule has ever been more important to win, and this Saturday means all the world to both Syracuse and Georgetown fans. The Hoyas would love nothing more than to come in to this scenario and spoil it all for Syracuse fans, and Syracuse fans just wouldn’t feel right with a proper sendoff of a Hoya beat down. The last time the Orange played Georgetown in such a critical scenario at home, six words were etched in history that no Syracuse fan will ever forget:
Manley Field House is officially closed.
We all know this is more than just another Big East game. Syracuse fans have been trying to savor every game this season, as there will never be another conference as fun to watch as the Big East Conference. But this game is bigger than that. Syracuse and Georgetown is about pride, hatred, competitiveness, and desire. As much as Syracuse fans hate Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals, you would be hard-pressed to find a Syracuse fan that doesn’t dislike John Thompson more. 35,000 strong will be out in full force to watch this finale, and the stakes have never been higher. It wouldn’t have felt right if both teams weren’t battling for a Big East Championship, and it is only fitting that this game will have the highest attendance in Carrier Dome history for basketball.
Regardless of the outcome, tomorrow should be celebrated. Fans should really enjoy it, because there won’t be a rivalry this intense for Syracuse for the next handful of seasons in my opinion. One my prosper once the Orange hit the ACC, but you won’t find a game with more passion from the fans for quite some time. Win or lose, tomorrow should be a game that fans look back on the history of these two teams, and really take in the sights and sounds of what will be the best atmosphere the Carrier Dome has ever seen. Win or lose Syracuse fans should enjoy every part about tomorrow.
But you and I both know that isn’t how it works. Orange Nation wants and expects a victory, and anything less than that will be considered a disappointment. 35,000+ fans is awesome, but without a win it means nothing. Syracuse has the more talented roster, but for this game your guess is as good as mine as to who will come out on top. The Hoyas have won 8 straight, and Syracuse is coming off of one of their best performances of the year against Providence.
Either way, tomorrow will be a day fans talk about for a long, long time.