Syracuse and Virginia have had some great battles in the past few years. However, Syracuse and its third-biggest rival played what could’ve possibly been the best college basketball ever.
The year is 2009. After handling Seton Hall in the second round of the Big East tournament, Syracuse advanced in the quarterfinals against UConn, a conference rival since 1979. The Huskies are ranked third in the nation, and SU is ranked eighteenth. Three hours and 46 minutes later (the longest game in conference history), the Orange left Madison Square Garden with a 127-117 win. I would try to describe the game, but if we’re being honest, words don’t really do it justice.
Johnny Flynn led Syracuse with 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 67 minutes played. Paul Harris had 29 and big buckets in the sixth extra period (56 minutes); Eric Devendorf had 22 and almost made a game winner in regulation (61); and Andy Rautins had 20 (50), including a huge trey in the final OT to give the Orange their first lead since the second half. Although SU lost in the tournament finals to Louisville, the six overtime quarterfinal went down in the history books.
Besides the legendary game in 2009, the Syracuse-UConn rivalry has been great in years past. 35 of the matchups have been decided by five points or less. However, the teams haven’t played on either’s home court since the conference split (one game in the Bahamas and three at MSG). But there is hope for the SU-UConn relationship. The football squads will play a home-and-home from 2020 to 2024. Let’s hope that positive experiences (and revenue) on the field can lead to more classics between the Orange and Huskies on the hardwood.