The Orange travels down to Madison Square Garden to play St. John’s Sunday afternoon, continuing a series from the old Big East. The Fizz takes a look at five keys to this series and why it might have continued.
1. New York City and Madison Square Garden are big for recruiting
As the Fizz has said in the past, playing basketball games in New York and football games at MetLife Stadium help recruiting in the area. The Garden is still a destination for basketball players and fans. Playing in New York City against St. John’s is a way for the Orange to go to New York-area recruits and say, “We will bring you home and let you play in front of your friends and family.” Recruiting the New York City area is important for Syracuse, especially with the whole “New York’s College Team” motto. In the past, it may not have been extremely important for the Orange to play St. John’s on the road in conference play every year because SU had the Big East Tournament in MSG every March. But now in the ACC, there is no guarantee that Syracuse can get New York games until the ACC Tournament, which is in Brooklyn, though only for one year.
2. Continuing the Rivalry
St. John’s and Syracuse was a big-time rivalry back in the ’80s. With Lou Carnesecca, Mark Jackson and Chris Mullin, St. John’s would travel upstate with New York City swagger and challenge the Orange. Along with Coach Boeheim, Carnesecca was one of the founding coaches of the Big East and somebody who was there as the conference grew developed through the ’90s. Although St. John’s has been down for a little while now, Steve Lavin has improved the program over his first three years with the Red Storm and maybe if this series continues, the rivalry can echo what it was in the ’80s.
3. Helps Syracuse non-conference schedule
It has been well documented that this is likely the best non-conference schedule Syracuse has ever played. St. John’s is part of that non-conference strength. Even with the Red Storm being a lower-half team in the old Big East, they are still a lot better than the teams Syracuse played in non-conference matchups last year. St. John’s is still a major conference team, and a team that has a chance to be on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year. Although the crowd at MSG is typically a pro-Syracuse crowd, this is technically the first true road game for the Orange, something that critics may point to at the end of the year.
4. St. John’s likes the big stage
As said above, St. John’s hasn’t been nationally relevant for a while now—you could even argue since Carnesecca retired. Scheduling a game against Syracuse every year brings Lavin and the Red Storm onto a national stage. First, Syracuse is one of the few St. John’s home games every year that is played at MSG. Second, the Orange will enter the Garden Sunday afternoon as the second team in the country, with the possibility of moving up to number one if Arizona slips up. Third, the game is nationally televised on a Sunday afternoon. The game is not only big for the Orange because they play in NYC, but also for the Red Storm, as they take look to knock off the number two team in the country in a nationally televised game.
5. This is different than the Georgetown series
Yes, Syracuse fans would probably rather see the Orange play the Hoyas once (or twice) every year. Whatever the reason, it hasn’t gotten done yet. For one, Georgetown is a big enough national team that it doesn’t need to play a game against a highly-ranked Syracuse team to get national broadcast and exposure the way St. John’s does. Basically, the only thing the game with Syracuse does for Georgetown is continue the rivalry. Georgetown doesn’t gain much in recruiting by coming to the Dome the way Syracuse gets a recruiting bump in D.C. The game would improve Georgetown’s non-conference schedule and keep one of the best rivalries in college basketball going; but other than that, there isn’t much benefit for the Hoyas. Georgetown doesn’t need Syracuse to pull that out in recruiting. Just because one or two former Big East rivalries will continues doesn’t mean that you can assume they all will, including the Georgetown game.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg