Syracuse vs. Seton Hall: It's-A The Pope-A!

The No. 1 Syracuse Orange put their streak of beating teams by the score of 80-61 on the line when they host the Seton Hall Pirates at 7pm. The game will be televised on Time Warner Cable, ESPN3.com and MSG.

We can't go too far without first discussing the last time the Pirates visited the Dome. Syracuse was undefeted and ranked in the top ten while Seton Hall seemed well on their way to Big East bottom-feeder status. The 90-68 butt-thumping they put on the Orange was as shocking as it was depressing to watch. Many, including myself, considered it one of the most ugly games the Orange have ever played.

Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard remembers the win fondly but realizes that night was the exception to the rule.

"Last year, we were able to make some shots, they missed shots and that's really all it came down to," said second-year Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard, who's squad ran out to a 26-16 advantage at the Carrier Dome and held on for the upset victory.

"The tough thing about this conference is when you're catching a team," said Willard. "Right now, we're catching Syracuse at a really bad time because they're playing excellent basketball, they're healthy, they're fresh."

Gone is Jeremy Hazell, who took roughly 1,428 shots against SU in his SHU career. But now the focus is on center Herb Pope. Which reminds me...

Hey! It's-a the Pope-A!!!

Pope is second in the Big East to West Virginia’s Kevin Jones in points (20.3 per game) and rebounds (11.4). Sufficed to say, Fab Melo has his work cut out for him. We might want to throw Rakeem Christmas to the fouling wolves for this one.

Don't sleep on Jordan Theodore, who scored a career-high 26 points in Seton Hall's final tuneup, an 87-61 rout at Longwood last Friday, or Fuquan Edwin, their version of Dion Waiters.

The Pirates are doing well at 11-1. How well? They're off to their best start since the 1992-93 season, when they started14-1 and won the Big East. Remember the days when Seton Hall would win the Big East? Don't you dare tell me they're returning.

Regardless of what's happened before now, the Syracuse Orange have hit the reset button tonight. No one cares about the 13-0 start or the No. 1 ranking in the Big East. And Kris Joseph knows it.

"It's what we've been prepping for," senior forward Kris Joseph said. "The young guys, they don't really know what the Big East is like yet. But they'll learn soon enough. As far as us leaders, we just have to prepare them mentally for what it's going to be like. It's going to be a dogfight for the whole 40 minutes. There are no easy games in the Big East."

That said, does Syracuse owe the Pirates a little payback after last season?

"Yes. Point blank," the senior said. "Yes we do."

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