Tomorrow marks the final time St. John’s will visit the Carrier Dome as a conference foe. The longtime, in-state rivals have engaged in some epic affairs over their three decades together in the Big East.
Luckily, Sunday doesn’t mark the end of a colorful and emotional chapter of Northeast hoops. With the agreement to play a home-and-home series against St. John’s the next two seasons, Syracuse basketball has taken the first step toward continuing its storied Big East rivalries into the future. And playing at Madison Square Garden regularly means a chance for the Big Apple alumni to see the Orange in person.
It’s the logical choice given the school’s impending departure for the ACC. Why close the book on some of the greatest rivalries in history, when you have the ability to write new chapters?
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Continuing to play SU’s longtime in-state rivals has a major added bonus, as well. It’ll also alleviate some of the same old tired scrutiny of Syracuse’s non-conference schedule. And that’s not because Jim Boeheim has had a major change of heart on the matter. He still doesn’t like to overwhelm his team in non-conference play. But clearly in recent years SU has increased its degree of difficulty before league play.
Leaving the Big East behind and still keeping rivalries in tact will only help the non-con. You’d imagine St. John’s and Georgetown will have a presence on the schedule for years to come. Possibly even a school like Villanova. (Screw UConn.)
It makes sense because the St. John’s and Georgetown rivalries are too valuable to let go. It’s important for the Orange to maintain a strong presence in major Northeast cities. If you want to recruit Philly, DC/Baltimore, and NYC it’s mighty useful to play games in those areas regularly.
While in the Big East, playing quality non-conference opponents usually means travelling long distances. The ACC means longer road trips for conference play, but it creates an opportunity for some exciting early-season games that don’t necessitate difficult travel.
Playing St. John’s at MSG is enormous to keep the Big Apple presence for both recruiting and alumni. Finding ways to work in Georgetown and Villanova will attract national TV audiences. And playing all three of these schools will help out SU’s tourney resume. Losing Big East basketball is tough to swallow, but Syracuse’s non-conference schedule will have a chance to benefit from the switch.
Posted: Andrew Kanell