SBD/June 11, 2014/Colleges

Syracuse, Georgetown Renew Hoops Rivalry With Four-Year, Home-And-Home Series

Verizon Center saw a record crowd for the final Syracuse-Georgetown tilt in '13
Georgetown and Syracuse, whose "fierce rivalry defined the glory days of the original Big East Conference, will resume their storied men’s basketball series with a four-year home-and-home series scheduled to tip off at Verizon Center" during the '15-16 season, according to Liz Clarke of the WASHINGTON POST. The games will "alternate between the two home arenas." Georgetown coach John Thompson III said, “We were going to do this. It’s a game, it’s a tradition that not only means a lot to both institutions but means a lot to college basketball." Clarke notes attendance at Verizon Center "has suffered" without the annual Syracuse game. Georgetown's average attendance "plunged" 20% in its first season in the revamped Big East, down from 10,911 in '12-13 to 8,670 in '13-14. A four-year home-and-home series with Kansas that began last season "should help," but "nothing packs Verizon Center like Georgetown’s games against Syracuse, the foe Hoya fans most love to hate." A record crowd of 20,972 "packed Verizon Center for the schools’ final regular season clash" in March '13 (WASHINGTON POST, 6/11). In Syracuse, Donna Ditota notes SU officials had "long proclaimed their desire to continue the series, which has generated huge fan support" (Syracuse POST-STANDARD, 6/11).

OTHER RIVALIES SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Eisenberg wrote the rebirth of the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry is "fantastic news for a sport that has suffered greatly during realignment because so many of the football- and TV revenue-driven decisions came at the expense of basketball tradition." That the schools avoided a "longterm hiatus is a testament to the forward thinking of coaches and administrators at both schools." Eisenberg: "They understood the national appeal of the rivalry, they appreciated that fans on both sides wanted it to continue and they found a way to put aside any resentment over realignment issues and make it happen." Renewing this rivalry should be a "lesson to coaches and administrators across the country who are letting petty disagreements get in the way of what's good for their programs, what's good for their fans and what's good for the sport" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/10). CBSSPORTS.com's Gary Parrish wrote measuring devices suggest casual college basketball fans "don't get too emotionally invested until January, if not later." However, that "doesn't mean the sport can't do better, and one way to do better is to create compelling non-league matchups that'll force people to pay attention." Parrish: "Syracuse-Georgetown is a perfect example. ... This is a great thing. Salute to the schools for making it happen" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/10).
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