For 30+ years, Syracuse-Georgetown has been the Big East’s signature rivalry.  Yes, Villanova and UConn have won national titles… and St. John’s was really good in the 80’s…but the league’s longstanding grudge match has been these two schools.   As with most rivalries, you have to be good.  Both schools have won league titles in multiple decades and often have battled against one another with major implications in place.  35,000+ are expected to show up at the Carrier Dome…and while after this year the two schools will be mere acquaintances on paper, they’ll always be rivals on some level.  Hoya Saxa…and Go Orange.

Georgetown (20-4, 10-3) enters today’s matchup having won eight straight…with three wins against ranked opponents.  Will Otto Porter’s knee be okay?  The Hoyas focal point wasn’t needed in a 90-66 rout of DePaul but will be needed to knock down three’s against the Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone.  D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is emerging as an option off the bench– and on a team that’s had problems producing points this winter that is huge.

Alma Mater Update– the Orange (22-4, 10-3) bounced back from a loss at UConn to slug by Seton Hall and Providence… as James Southerland continues to work himself back into the offense (his 20 pts on 7-8FG against the Friars his best performance since his suspension).  Will SU’s zone be active against a Hoya team that can bury you with 3’s and backdoor passes?  Will the Orange attack be more than one-on-one isolation?  Will the 44 Wing Salute become a reality at the Sign of the Whale?

Maryland (18-8, 6-7) saw both extremes of the rollercoaster a young team rides during the season… a thrilling 83-81 triumph over Duke followed by a 69-58 loss at Boston College.  So much for the bubble bounce.  The Terps can still make their case for an at-large berth, but need to sweep its remaining five games… and it’s not as much North Carolina at home or Virginia away that concerns the College Park faithful–they’ll get up for these games no problem– as much as trips to Georgia Tech and Wake Forest .

Cruising the Commonwealth– rough weeks for both Virginia (18-8, 8-5) and Virginia Tech (11-15, 2-11).  The Cavaliers missed a chance to join the ACC’s elite (right now Miami and Duke, with UNC legacied in)… falling in Chapel Hill despite a double-digit first half lead and then dropping a heartbreaker to the Hurricanes.  Coach Tony Bennett’s team still has just one game remaining against an ACC school with a winning conference record–#6 Duke February 28th.  If they don’t sweep the other games, UVa could be bouncing back on the bubble.  Meanwhile, the Hokies have lost nine straight… the latest heartbreak last Saturday’s overtime defeat at NC State.  Somebody get Erick Green Sean Singletary’s number for moral support.

George Mason (16-11, 9-6)  used to be a team that  was faultless in Fairfax but had raging road issues.  This winter they’ve dropped three straight at the Patriot Center and have won four straight away from the beltway.  The Patriots have a relative breather (William & Mary is 6-9 in league play) before facing Towson and Delaware (two schools they’re fighting with for second place in the CAA).  Can Jonathan Arledge (20 points at Hofstra) be a difference maker?

George Washington (12-12, 6-5) bounced back from consecutive losses with a 68-60 victory against Fordham thanks to 15 points from Danish import Kevin Larsen…the 6-10 big man has four double-digit efforts in his last five games (getting shut out by Butler).  Consecutive road games at St. Joseph’s and Richmond could go a long way towards determining whether or not the Colonials finish in the top ten of the Atlantic 10.

Maryland Womens Window– a Sunday showdown with #5 Duke looms large… as the Terps (22-4, 13-2) have won three straight since falling at Cameron Indoor.  The dynamic duo of Tianna Hawkins and Alyssa Thomas continues to dominate inside– Tierney Pfirman’s return from a dislocated knee hopefully will give the team an additional outside option. 

American (10-16, 5-6) saw another turn to it’s maddeningly inconsistent campaign come in the form of a 50-44 loss at last place Navy… just a few days after a thrilling 64-61 overtime victory over Holy Cross.  Another double-double against the Midshhipmen by the machine known as Stephen Lumpkins…but another 36% shooting effort shoots the Eagles in the foot.  And it doesn’t get any easier– Army, Bucknell and Lafayette are all ahead of the Eagles in the Patriot League standings.

Howard (6-21, 3-10) suffered back to back heartbreaks against Morgan State and Florida A&M before getting blown out at Bethune-Cookman.  They do play Coppin State and Maryland-Eastern Shore (a combined 4-20 in the MEAC)…as Mike Phillips winds down his Bison career.