Thirty-two games into their already historic season, the No. 2-ranked Syracuse Orange men's basketball program still has some unfinished business. No, it has nothing to do with the upcoming NCAA Tournament or a possible National Championship, its a rematch with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the only school to upend the Orange (31-1) this season.
To set up a possible rematch with the Irish in the finals of the Big East Conference Tournament, top-seeded Syracuse will need to earn a victory over the No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats Friday night at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. on ESPN).
On Wednesday, the Orange used 18 points from sophomore guard Dion Waiters and 10 from junior forward James Southerland, all coming in the game's final eight minutes, to knock off No. 9 Connecticut Huskies, 58-55, in the quarterfinals.
Just 40 minutes and two overtimes later, the Bearcats edged No. 5 Georgetown Hoays, 72-70. Junior guard Cashmere Wright banked in the game-winning shot, which was let go just inside the free-throw-line, with about nine seconds remaining in the second extra session. Senior forward Yancy Gates led all scores with 23 points.
Earlier this season, Jan. 23, these two teams met in Cincinnati with Syracuse coming out on top 60-53. The contest was played just two days after the Orange suffered their first and only loss of the season at Notre Dame, 67-58. The game also didn't feature the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, SU's sophomore center Fabricio Melo, who was not playing due to an academic issue.
Despite the lack of its interior presence, Syracuse was able to pull out the victory behind 17 points from its leading scorer, senior forward Kris Joseph. The Orange would use that win to spur their current 11-game winning streak.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati has earned wins in eight of its last 10 games, which helped them earn the No. 4 seed and a double-bye in the Big East Tournament.
Sophomore guard Sean Kilpatrick paces the Bearcats in scoring with 14.5 points per game, while senior guard Dion Dixon averages 13.5 ppg. The players to key on, however, are Gates, a versatile 6-foot-9, 290-pound forward, and Wright, who nets just over 10 ppg and attempts close to 10 3-pointers a contest.
The winner will advance to the Big East Tournament's finals against either Notre Dame or No. 7 Louisville Cardinals on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
For complete coverage of the Big East Tournament, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream.
For more on the Big East Conference, visit the SB Nation blog Big East Coast Bias. If you're a college basketball nut, well, SB Nation's college basketball hub will solve your hoops cravings. Check out, the SB Nation's blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician for everything Orange, while Down The Drive is all about the Bearcats.