Both Syracuse and Georgetown entered into that February 23rd match-up with a 10-3 record inside the Big East Conference. They were sharing the top shelf of the conference.
Thus, the Hoyas' 57-46 victory provided separation between themselves and the Orange, sending the Orange down a peg.
Since that loss, Syracuse has struggled to find success, losing two of their last three, resulting in an even farther fall out of the top three.
In contrast, Georgetown has won two of three, keeping them atop the conference.
But, the Hoyas' recent loss to the Wildcats of Villanova has made them vulnerable at the most inopportune time. The Louisville Cardinals six-game winning streak and three-game victory run by the Marquette Golden Eagles have locked them with Georgetown at 13-4 in the Big East.
The Orange can now assume the roll that the Hoyas took against them, the roll of spoiler. If Syracuse defeats Georgetown, then they will open up the top spot for Louisville or Marquette to take, preventing Georgetown from becoming regular season champions, just as Georgetown had done to them.
However, in order for the spoiler attempt to work, the Cardinals will have to emerge victorious over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, who, in a quest to make the story even better, were the last team to beat the Cardinals. Louisville and Notre Dame needed five extra periods in their last match before the Irish grabbed a three-point win.
If Syracuse is successful in avenging their loss to Georgetown, but Louisville loses, Georgetown will still win the tiebreaker over Louisville because of their head-to-head victory against Louisville, 53-51, back on January 26th.
The role of spoiler for the Orange also works if they defeat the Hoyas and the Golden Eagles win over the Red Storm of St. John's.
Looking at this contest from another angle, the Orange could get back into the top four in the Big East with a win and some help, thus securing a double-bye in the upcoming Big East Conference Tournament.
Syracuse and Notre Dame are tied with the Pittsburgh Panthers, at 11-6 in the Big East, going into the final game of the season for each team. The Orange own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Irish from a 63-47 victory on February 4th. The Irish have the advantage over the Panthers from a 51-42 head-to-head win back on February 18th. The Panthers have control of the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Orange as a result of their 65-55 win from February 2nd.
In the event that any one of these squads win and the other two lose, the victor takes the fourth spot in the Big East. But, if more than one team wins, these tiebreakers come into play. If Syracuse and Pittsburgh win, but Notre Dame loses, Pittsburgh takes fourth place. If Syracuse and Notre Dame are victorious and Pittsburgh is defeated, Syracuse obtains the fourth spot.
What if all three squads win, ending the Big East regular season at 12-6 apiece? Then, we look at their records against one another as a whole. Syracuse is 1-1 versus Pittsburgh and Notre Dame combined. Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are also 1-1 amongst what has been known as the "mini conference".
The next tiebreaker is how each team fared against the top team in the conference. This is where things get even more interesting.
A Syracuse win means a Georgetown loss, just as a Notre Dame victory means that Louisville adds another defeat. Marquette becomes vital at this point. If Marquette wins, then they become the top team. Syracuse and Notre Dame are 0-1 versus Marquette, while Pittsburgh is 0-2. A special rule takes place at this point, where Pittsburgh is not eliminated because if Syracuse and Notre Dame played another game against Marquette, then they could end up with the same record of 0-2.
The records of the three teams against the Hoyas would be next as the Hoyas would achieve second place over the Cardinals in this scenario where both teams lose due to the Hoyas' head-to-head win described earlier. Syracuse would be 1-1 versus Georgetown, while Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are both 0-1. The special rule returns, where Notre Dame and Pittsburgh cannot lose this tiebreaker because if they played another game against Georgetown, they could end up with the same record as Syracuse.
Now, Louisville is the tiebreaker. Keeping with this scenario, Notre Dame would be 2-0 versus Louisville, Syracuse 1-1, and Pittsburgh 0-1, resulting in Notre Dame winning the fourth spot.
If Marquette loses to St. John's and Georgetown and Louisville lose to Syracuse and Notre Dame, respectively, then Georgetown keeps the top spot and Louisville moves to second. In this situation, the tiebreaker still comes down to Louisville, with Notre Dame taking fourth place over Syracuse.