It's not the last game between Georgetown and Syracuse. They will meet again in a couple of weeks in Washington, D.C., and could be destined for a rematch in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. But there's a good chance they won't play in the Carrier Dome again – at least not as conference opponents - and that's why 35,000 will pack the Dome to root for the Orange and all the memories from the past. Many of us remember when John Thompson closed down Manley Fieldhouse. Who knows what will happen this time around.
If you enjoy the excitement of the mid-majors and can't wait to figure out some possible Cinderella candidates for this year's NCAA tournament, don't miss South Dakota State at Murray State or Ohio at Belmont. And TCU visits Kansas as the Jayhawks celebrate 115 years of basketball in Lawrence this weekend. Think the Jayhawks will be out for revenge of that 62-55 embarrassment on Feb. 6?
Here are five games you don't want to miss (all times ET):
Saint Louis (20-5, 9-2 Atlantic 10) at No. 15 Butler (22-5, 9-3 A 10) (Friday 7 p.m., ESPNU)
It has been rare this season to find quality matchups on Friday nights. But if you are staying in and looking for a college hoops fix, this is a good one. The Billikens have won eight straight and moved into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10, just ahead of Butler and Virginia Commonwealth. If Saint Louis can steal some of that Hinkle Fieldhouse magic away from the Bulldogs, it's possible the Billikens could win the regular season championship. Somewhere, that would put a smile on the face of the late Rick Majerus.
No. 11 Georgetown (20-4, 10-3 Big East) at No. 8 Syracuse (22-4, 10-3 Big East) (Saturday, 4 p.m., CBS)
Pearl Washington. Patrick Ewing. Derrick Coleman. Alonzo Mourning. Jim Boeheim. John Thompson, the father, and that big towel draped over his shoulder. This was the rivalry that defined the Big East. Now the conference is being ripped apart and the fans filing into the Carrier Dome for this first-place showdown they won't see anything like this again. Add the names Otto Porter and Michael Carter-Williams to the long list of stars that played in this incredible series.
The Mountain West Conference race has been tons of fun this season with UNLV, San Diego State, Air Force, Boise State and Wyoming pulling upsets and playing a part. But this is the game of the season. If the Lobos win they can leave Fort Collins with the regular season title practically in their back pocket. That's easier said than done.
|Matthew Dellavedova of Saint Mary's|
Creighton (22-6, 11-5 Missouri Valley) at Saint Mary's (23-5, 12-2 West Coast) (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN)
It must be strange for both of these talented teams to step out of conference play for a spotlight game this late in the season. But a win for either one will be a big boost toward an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament – if needed. Creighton, of course, features national player of the year candidate Doug McDermott, who is averaging 22.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. Saint Mary's counters with senior guard Matthew Dellavedova, who averages 16 points and 6.4 assists. Unlike so many college teams this season, these squads run efficient offenses. Both average about 76 points per game and that should make it a fun game to watch.
Back on Jan. 19, Michigan State defeated Ohio State 59-56. That game was in East Lansing. Now the venue will be Value City Arena in Columbus. The Buckeyes are tough at home and perhaps they righted themselves with a dominating 71-45 victory over Minnesota this week. Michigan State must still be smarting from Tuesday night's wild 72-68 loss to No. 1 Indiana. Watching Keith Appling go against Aaron Craft at point guard will be worth the price of admission. Gary Harris (shoulder) and Travis Trice (concussion) are banged up for the Spartans.Wear heavy padding; this one will get physical.