NCAA BK

Last act for Georgetown-Syracuse

Otto Porter Jr. and the Hoyas face C.J. Fair and the Orange in the Big East semifinals.
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Reid Forgrave

Reid Forgrave has worked for the Des Moines Register, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Seattle Times. His work has been recognized by Associated Press Sports Editors, the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists and the Society for Features Journalism. Follow him on Twitter.

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The moment that Syracuse beat Pitt on Thursday, we all could begin our 24-hour hype session for the rekindling of one of the greatest rivalries in college sports.

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Georgetown and Syracuse. Ewing and Pearl. Boeheim and JTII or JTIII. Together again, for one night only, at the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden.

In a way, it has the feel of the old band getting back together for a reunion tour. (So what if the last show for Georgetown-Syracuse was less than a week ago?) But perhaps the better comparison is this: This is a longstanding, dysfunctional couple that finally has broken up — but decided they should go out together, just one more night, for old time’s sake.

We all know how this ends: with hurt feelings, with an unhealthy nostalgia for something that’s clearly in the past, and with two teams that head toward their very different futures with one more reminder of how good things used to be.

Maybe what Syracuse and Georgetown really need is a mutual friend to pull them aside: Hey, guys? This brief rekindling of something that’s clearly dead, with one of you heading to the ACC and the other to the new Catholic conference? It sounds like fun now, but in the end it’ll bring you nothing but pain.

This is not the narrative you’ll hear before tipoff. Instead, you’ll hear about how there’s no better ending to the 34 amazing years of the Big East than this, the most heated rivalry in the conference, two of the charter schools meeting one more time before everything changes.

This is what will happen in Midtown Manhattan today: Syracuse and Georgetown fans, who’ll have had a full day to get lubed up before tipoff, will be there in force. The arena roof will be ready to explode, especially if it’s a closer contest than both times Georgetown beat Syracuse this season. Otto Porter Jr. will do what he does for this Georgetown team, which is attract enough attention from the opponent that the game opens up for his teammates. Syracuse will keep trying to feed the ball to James Southerland, who has been an unconscious 12-of-15 from 3-point range in the first two games of the Big East tournament. Maybe it’ll be a buzzer-beating classic, with Georgetown sharpshooter Markel Starks hitting a game-winning 3, or Syracuse’s ball-stealing machine Michael Carter-Williams repeating his game-winning steal-and-fast-break to beat top-ranked Louisville earlier this season.

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But on Saturday morning, when the future is finally here, won’t it hurt a little bit worse?

The lead-up to the game and the game itself will give us ample time to relive all the good times: when Georgetown halted Syracuse’s 57-game home win streak in the final game at their old field house in 1980. When Patrick Ewing just missed connecting with a punch at Pearl Washington in 1985. When Thompson was handed three technical fouls on the same possession, which caused his Hoyas to lose to Syracuse in 1990. When Gerry McNamara nailed a three at the buzzer to beat Georgetown in 2004.

Oh, the memories.

Maybe today’s final matchup really will be a cathartic release at the end of this 34-year relationship. Maybe it’ll be good for everybody. Maybe this really is the stars aligning to give us one more taste of something great.

Or maybe it would better for everybody if we could look at all these memories and leave them as just that: something that’s in the past, and should stay there.

Follow Reid Forgrave on Twitter @ReidForgrave or email him at ReidForgrave@gmail.com.

Tagged: Syracuse, Georgetown

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