It's Pitt and Syracuse in the Big East Tournament one last time. For the loser, it's their final appearance in the Big East Tournament. Their next meeting will be as members of the ACC.
While Pitt had won six of the last seven meetings, and 14 of the lat 18 overall, Syracuse has the edge on Pitt in Big East Tournament winning four of five matchups.
And who could forget...
March 7, 1987: Syracuse 99 Pitt 85
Sherman Douglas went off for 35 points, and the Orange avenged two regular season losses to the Panthers. Both teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament, with Syracuse going all the way to the championship game.
March 8, 1990: Syracuse 58 Pitt 55
Derrick Coleman's layup with 19 seconds left gave Syracuse a 56-55 lead. He then blocked a layup attempt by Brian Shorter on the other end, which ended a dismal 12-17 season for the Panthers.
March 12, 1993: Syracuse 55 Pitt 50
Adrian Autry connected with 20 points, in the final Big East Tournament game of the Paul Evans era.
March 9, 2001: Pitt 55 Syracuse 54
In this writer's opinion, the game where Pitt officially jumped the shark, for the good. Pitt entered the game with a 17-12 record. The Panthers hadn't won more than 18 games in 10 years. Isaac Hawkins' free throw with three seconds left gave Pitt its first ever appearance in the Big East title game.
March 11, 2006: Syracuse 65 Pitt 61
Gerry McNamara, now a Syracuse assistant, capped a perfect week with 14 points and six assists, giving his team the Big East Tournament Championship. Syracuse completed in improbable run, winning four games in four nights.
This series has been unique over the years, in the sense that whatever happens in the regular season, goes out the window for the Big East Tournament. In 1987, Pitt won both regular season meetings, yet got blown out to the same Syracuse team, which made it all the way to the national title game.
Just as in 2001, Syracuse won both regular season meetings. Pitt beat the Orange for the only time in Big East Tournament play. Not to mention, that was just the second Pitt win in the previous 18 meetings.
So, it's only fitting the two teams that are embarking on a new endeavor, meet one last time. It's hard to say that each is the other's chief Big East rival, but there's a lot of history support they might be.
After last month's 65-55 Pitt win, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim called Pitt the best team he had seen to that point.
"They're the best team that we''ve played, without any question," Boeheim said. "It's not even close."
In that game, Pitt outrebounded Syracuse 39-24, holding them to 37 percent shooting (18-49).
Since that meeting, Pitt has gone 6-2. Syracuse has gone 6-5, including a 75-63 win over Seton Hall to advance to Thursday's Quarterfinals.
James Southerland did not play the last time the two teams met. Against Seton Hall, he went off for 20 points, overcoming a 1-13 three-point performance in his previous two games. Coming off a big game, and getting another shot at Pitt after having to sit out the last time, Southerland seems eager and confident to get another shot at the Panthers.
"I know Pitt plays a physical game," Southerland said. "We're going to go out and be physical and move the ball around. We'll be tough to guard."
Pitt has been in New York since Monday. They've had a little extra down time, which in year's past, hasn't proven to affect any team more than the other.
It is clear, that like previous regular season outcomes and previous history between the two schools, it's a clean slate. Not to mention, both teams are likely heading for the NCAA Tournament. However, this one last meeting in the Big East Tournament is the only thing on their minds.
"Now, it's one and done," senior Tray Woodall said. "Everyone's team, they're a lot better. Our team is also a little bit better. We're starting to hit our stride.
Pitt Probable Lineup:
G - Tray Woodall (11.7 ppg, 5.3 apg)
G - James Robinson (6.0 ppg, 3.5 apg)
F - Lamar Patterson (9.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
F - Talib Zanna (9.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
C - Steven Adams (7.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
Syracuse Probable Lineup:
G - Michael Carter-Williams (12.3 ppg, 7.8 apg)
G - Brandon Triche (14.0 ppg, 3.7 apg)
F - C.J. Fair (14.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
F - James Southerland (13.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
C - Rakeem Christmas (5.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg)