Syracuse vs. Georgetown Preview

The Syracuse and Georgetown rivalry took a back seat to no one, providing classic games, a fiery atmosphere and unequaled player match-ups. Though it's cooled down some within the last few years, when the #24 Orangemen (16-6, 6-5) face the Hoyas (13-9, 4-7) at the MCI Center on Saturday, much remains at stake for both teams. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m.

With five games remaining, Syracuse heads in fighting for a critical first-round bye in the Big East tournament (the top four teams qualify) and a chance to defend their national championship run in the NCAA tournament. Georgetown, also with five games remaining, looks to secure a place in the conference tourney.

Syracuse comes off a damaging 84-72 loss to Notre Dame at home Monday night, which dropped the Orangemen to 3-5 in their last eight games.

The skid dates back to Jan. 20 when Syracuse lost at Seton Hall. Since then, Syracuse has struggled offensively, often failing to develop a third and occasionally a second scoring threat.

"We have to go out there and play with that passion, that heart, with the same hunger that we played with last year," said junior forward Hakim Warrick. "I think we really have to protect our home court from here on out and hopefully win some games on the road as well."

National player of the year candidate Warrick, coming off a 28 point and 16 rebound showing against Notre Dame, leads the Orangemen and sits second in the Big East in scoring with 19.9 points per game. Warrick also sits fourth in the Big East with 9.2 rebounds per game.

Gerry McNamara, who has struggled to stay in an offensive rhythm recently, is the Orangemen's second leading scorer with 16.4 points per game.

Syracuse averages 76.6 points per game this season, but has failed to eclipse that mark in their last five losses.

Georgetown, who is 10-3 at home this season, has lost nine of its last 12 games, including a 59-53 loss at St. John's Wednesday. Gerald Riley (18.1 ppg) and Brandon Bowman (16.3 ppg) lead the Hoyas.

It seems that Syracuse will play again without their sophomore starting point guard Billy Edelin. Edelin, who is out indefinitely, has missed five of the past six games due to personal reasons. Freshman Demetris Nichols has started in his place with McNamara and junior Josh Pace taking over ball-handling responsibilities.

Syracuse now sits in a tie for fifth place in the Big East with Seton Hall, Villanova and West Virginia. Georgetown currently occupies the second to last spot to qualify for the Big East tournament, ahead of only Virginia Tech, Miami and St. John's. Syracuse notched a 3-0 record against Georgetown last season, including a 93-84 win at the MCI Center.

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