The greatest Big East Conference Tournament rivalry will be renewed Thursday afternoon, as the No. 2-ranked Syracuse Orange faces the Connecticut Huskies in a men's basketball game at Madison Square Garden. The Orange (30-1) and Huskies (20-12) will meet for the third time this season and 14th time in Big East Tournament history.
On Wednesday, the Huskies earned their third straight victory, the second in the tournament, by defeating the West Virginia Mountaineers, 71-67, in overtime. Sophomore guard Shabazz Napier netted a game-best 26 points and dished out six assists, while sophomore guard Jeremy Lamb netted 22, including a 3-pointer in the extra session.
Entering the tournament, UConn was a NCAA Tournament bubble team, however, that has changed with the back-to-back victories.
Meanwhile, Syracuse has nothing to gain from the Big East Tournament expect to earn its sixth crown. According to the NCAA tournament committee chairman, the Orange and Kentucky Wildcats are the top two teams in the nation and have solidified their No. 1 seeds in the 68-team field.
This will be the first game for the Orange since downing Louisville, 58-49, in their regular-season finale on Saturday. Behind junior guard Brandon Triche, who netted a team-high 17 points, Syracuse capped its best regular season in program and Big East history.
In their final games at the Carrier Dome, senior forward Kris Joseph, the team's top scorer with 14.0 points per game, netted 11, while senior point guard Scoop Jardine, a All-Big East Second Team selection, dished out four assists.
The Orange also feature the Big East's Sixth-Man of the Year, sophomore guard Dion Waiters, and the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore center Fabricio Melo.
The contest with UConn will tip off at noon ET and will be shown on ESPN. The Orange enter as 7 1/2-point favorites.
Check out, the SB Nation's blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician to discuss everything on the Orange, while the The UConn Blog is all about, well, UConn. Make sure to follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY or JaredSmithCNY, as we live blogged from the Carrier Dome.