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So Long, Big East!: Remembering Syracuse's Best Basketball Moments

As Syracuse fans prep themselves to depart the Big East next week, the TNIAAM staff takes a look back at some of the best moments in the conference

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Come next Monday, Syracuse will no longer be a member of the Big East -- the conference it started -- and instead will be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. We've known about this move since September of 2011, and still, it's weird now that we're just days away from making it official. Since we're not leaving the Big East (football or basketball) as we once knew it, the break is certainly easier than we thought it would be. But still, we here at TNIAAM thought it'd be nice to take a look back at some of our favorite moments in our longtime conference home.

Today, we continue by taking a look at our favorite Big East basketball moments. With a storied history of success in hoops, along with being one half of the rivalry that defined the conference, there was plenty to choose from here, and I'd still bet we didn't even begin to scratch the surface of just how important SU basketball and the Big East have been to each other.


Matt McClusky: Georgetown. What Big East memory from the Syracuse side doesn't start with Georgetown? For me it was the early 90s battles: Derrick Coleman, Dikembe Mutombo, Sherman Douglas, Charles Smith (man I hated that goatee!). I remember the Cap Center. Man I remember hating that red court. Everything Georgetown v. Syracuse, Syracuse v. Georgetown is, er was, the Big East.

But there is no more lasting memory than watching John Thompson, Jr. getting himself three technicals and getting run out of the Carrier Dome in 1990. I mean, this wasn't just an ordinary game -- it was for the Big East regular season title. And this wasn't your ordinary rash of technicals -- coming in a close game right before halftime. In fact, Georgetown actually led the game by three when the Hoyas were called for a foul that Thompson... disliked. That led to 10 straight Orangemen points and a massive momentum swing.

There are a ton of great memories (Gerry McNamara's threes against Notre Dame in '03, Jeremy McNeil's foul shots against Pittsburgh that same year, the six overtimes against Connecticut, Pearl getting punched and Boeheim's post game reaction, owning Seton Hall until the early 90s, the comeback at Rutgers in '05), but nothing is Syracuse v. Georgetown. And the fact Syracuse v. Georgetown got to basically close out the Big East in this year's Big East tourney semis was a perfect ending. Sure the title game the next night was important, but nothing was ever more necessary than beating the Hoyas. The Big East started and ended with those two.

Jared Smith: This will be a popular choice, I am sure, but the 2006 Big East Tournament Championship run will always be one of my favorite sports moments of all-time. I was a sophomore in college at the time and remember watching each of the games in the newspaper lab. Each day Gerry McNamara seemed to pull off a miracle, so by the time the semi and finals I had to go back to the lab and watch the games to keep the streak going.

My second favorite moment probably happened this year when the Orange finally defeated Georgetown after getting manhandled in the regular season. Man, that C.J. Fair dunk over Otto Porter was something else. I'll never forget that feeling when Fair threw it down and I knew SU was going to pull off the win.

Sadly, I never got the opportunity to check out a BET at Madison Square Garden. That is something I will regret, but I have some many awesome memories of staying home and watching games with friends and family.

Sean Keeley: The Big East Tournament basically existed as a memory-creating machine and the six-overtime game between Syracuse and UConn forever to be referred to as Six Overtimes has to be the game that stands out most for me. G-Mac's "Overrated? Tour" was certainly something and there are a bevy of other memorable games & runs over the course of 30+ years, but Six Overtimes was the epitome of everything the BET was supposed to represent. It pitted two bitter rivals against one another in a game with so many false finishes, twists and turns that by the time it was over, it felt like we had played three. It's a game that will live on for a long time for both schools (more so for us), just as the Big East Tournament will live on in infamy.

John Cassillo: Am I the only person who's going to even mention the 2003 National Championship? Yes, in many cases it was tougher to win the Big East than it was to win a national title, but I'd think Jimmy B finally winning the big one was a crowning achievement for both him and the program and without it, perhaps there's a very different perception about Syracuse (maybe we don't even get invited to the ACC).

Big East-specific, though, it boils down to three things: Georgetown (as Matt mentioned above), the Six Overtime Game (see Sean's section) and Gerry's "OVERRATED?!" tour (also see Sean). As a fan, I'll remember Georgetown as everything you hated in an opponent, and the standard to which we'll hold all rivals (small 'r') from now on. They're also the first (and only) opponent I ever rushed the Carrier Dome floor against. For Gerry's magical Big East tournament run, I was watching as a high school senior, SU acceptance in hand, thrilled for what I was about to become a part of. Most of all, Six Overtimes represented every reason you watch college sports. It was raw emotion, utter exhaustion, the thrill of the unexpected and the jubilation of victory in a marathon of a game I doubt anyone who watched it will ever forget. It's pointless to wax poetic about how we wish things were different. We can only revel in what we had: likely the greatest basketball conference and tournament ever assembled. I'm glad to have been part of it and am thankful for all the memories it's provided me (and all of us Syracuse fans) over the years.


How about you guys? What's your top Big East basketball moment? Discuss all of your favorites (and ours) below.

Missed yesterday's post on our favorite Big East football memories? Go catch up!