The No. 4-ranked Syracuse Orange put their unblemished 16-0 record on the line Wednesday night as the St. John's Red Storm host an intriguing Big East Conference matchup at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. on ESPNU).
Syracuse (16-0, 3-0 Big East) will play its second-straight road game and try to remain one of five teams in the nation to remain without a loss -- currently, No. 1 Duke Blue Devils, No. 2 Ohio St. Buckeyes, No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks and No. 6 San Diego St. Aztecs all remain undefeated.
Last week, St. John's (10-4, 3-1) beat the Georgetown Hoyas (ranked No. 22 in the AP poll and No. 19 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) Monday but lost to No. 9/11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Sunday. However, the efforts allowed the Johnnies to earn four points in Monday's AP poll, which ranked the Red Storm 39th in the nation. The votes were the first Top 25 points for St. John's since December of 2009.
The main storyline for Wednesday's game isn't the coaches (legendary SU head coach Jim Boeheim against slick-looking St. John's head coach Steve Lavin) or the players (SU point guard Scoop Jardine against St. John's point guard Dwight Hardy -- click link.)
Nope, there's none of that common, pregame rhetoric. The real story -- at least this is what the SB Nation blogs are talking about -- is the fact that Syracuse has made MSG its home away from home during the past decade.
That advantage is something that the Johnnies want, desperately, to take back.
"Bob Wenzel's line in that loss at the Garden about hearing the "jingle of car keys" from the Red Storm section has stuck with me," wrote Pico Dulce of Rumble In The Garden. "Years after the game. It was horrifying, not just for the home loss to the Orange, but for the comfort the Orange fans felt -cheering, throwing free t-shirts BACK onto the court..."
"Syracuse?! Syracuse, though pleasant enough, is a completely different New York! If Syracuse is New York's team, New York City should secede! Syracuse is Canada!* The Red Storm fans have to Take the Garden Back. We need rallies. We St. John's fans need to fight this tyranny."
According to Sean Keeley of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, the 'Cuse faithful take pride in calling MSG home.
"By all accounts if you were visiting NYC from a foreign country during late December, no one would have blame you for thinking Syracuse University was actually located in Manhattan. It was DOC Gross' dream come true (he's still working on that Manhattan move...)."
"Cuse fans take offense at MSG games being considered home games but the truth is it's usually mock offense. We LOVE the fact that we can pack the Garden any time we play there. Even when we're playing St. John's...which is IN New York City."
So, let the fight for 'home-court' advantage take place. Battleground: Madison Square Garden.
@ St. John's Red Storm
Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011, 7:00 PM EST
Madison Square Garden