The Big East as we know it is coming to an end tonight with the Big East Championship game at 8 pm. This is a storied conference with historic rivalries and some of the greatest games ever played in the sport of basketball,and it is truly a shame that one of the greatest basketball conference of all time is evaporating.
This is the last Big East Tournament that Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, West Virginia, Rutgers, and Notre Dame will be playing together in. Two years earlier, these schools announced their parting with the conference that they once help found. There are many memories that will last forever as part of the original Big East.
Syracuse has hosted the largest crowd in NCAA history. First they packed 34,616 in to the Dome to watch them beat Villanova. They broke their own record this year in the last home game against the hated rival Georgetown. They had 35,012 people in the loud house to watch them struggle and lose.
Georgetown marched into Syracuse and Manley Field House with a mission on February 13, 1980.
In the final game in Manley Field House, Georgetown snapped the Orange’s 57-game home winning streak. Hoya’s Coach John Thompson declared “Manley Field House is officially closed” sparking the one of the best rivalries in sports.
Back in 1988, Pittsburgh’s Jerome Lane shatters the backboard when they were playing Providence on national television. Lane broke the backboard glass with a one-handed dunk that is now called “The Dunk” and as Bill Raftery said, “Send it in, Jerome!”
In the 1996 Big East Championship game, the two high scoring NBA guards met before their professional carriers. Ray Allen sends in an acrobatic shot to take the lead over Allen Iverson’s Hoyas with 13.6 seconds left in the game sending he Huskies to a Big East title.
Leo Rautins tipped a missed shot in the end of the third overtime against Villanova to break a late game tie and sent the Orange to a narrow escape and a Big East Championship.
Leo’s son played a huge part in another overtime game, actually a six overtime game. In 2009 Andy Rautins hit key three point shots to keep Syracuse in the game with UConn. Johnny Flynn played 67 of the 70 minutes in the best game ever played in the Big East. Eric Devendorf hit a game winning buzzer beater at the end of regulation but after a second look they waved it of and the 4 hour slug fest continued. Finally at 1:22 am the next morning Andy Rautins hit a three pointer and the game ended. Of the 244 points scored, 102 came after the end of regulation.
There are so many more memories throughout the long and storied history of the Big East Conference. The final Big East game tonight is going to be very emotional as The Orange take on Louisville. One of the greatest basketball conferences, and some of the greatest sports rivalries are going to be ripped apart after this game tonight. Let hope it goes out with a bang.
As John Thompson would say, the Big East is officially closed.