Georgetown v Syracuse

Georgetown exacts their Big East revenge by exposing Syracuse

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The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry all stems from one incident back in February of 1980, when the Big East was still in its infancy and Syracuse was planning their move into the Carrier Dome.

After the Hoyas notched a come-from-behind victory over then-No. 2 Syracuse, legend has it that John Thompson Jr. grabbed the microphone told the crowd of orange-clad spectators that “Manley Fieldhouse is now closed“.

Georgetown and Syracuse would both go on to become powerhouse programs in the 80’s, with both teams reaching the national title game during that decade, which certainly helped build the profile of the Big East conference into the best basketball league in the country. So maybe those two teams were destined to become rivals, but it sure does become easier — and much more intriguing — when the two best teams in a league despise each other.

That quote from Georgetown’s notoriously grumpy head coach helped shape the way we view college basketball today, so it’s fitting that, in the final time Syracuse will host Georgetown as members of the same conference, the Hoyas picked up a win and moved into first place in the Big East. Throw in Otto Porter’s offensive explosion and appearance on the radar of National Player of the Year voters, and it would be easy to forget that Syracuse suddenly does not look like a top ten team or a title contender.

They’ve lost four of their last eight games. Two of those losses came with James Southerland back in the lineup. Brandon Triche looks like he’s prepping for another late-season swoon; his 29-point explosion at Seton Hall does a good job of hiding his struggles during February. Michael Carter-Williams hasn’t been consistent as a play-maker and the Orange lack a go-to guy late in games, a fact that is particularly obvious when Carter-Williams and Triche are struggling.

It’s not time to be concerned just yet.

Three of those four losses came on the road to NCAA tournament-caliber teams in league play, and I’m not sure there is a team in the country playing better basketball right now than the Hoyas. Syracuse didn’t lose to DePaul or South Florida. The faithful denizens of Upstate New York can step away from the ledge for now.

But it may be time to readjust our expectations for Syracuse this season.

Without consistency from their back court, Syracuse is not going win the Big East and they are not going to make the Final Four. It’s that simple.

And there may not be a better way for Georgetown to exact their Big East revenge than exposing that fact.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.