Everybody loves overtime. But how about six of them?
Thursday night the Syracuse Orangemen and Connecticut Huskies went at it longer than any other game in Big East history. The total time of 3 hours and 46 minutes actually ranks as the second longest game in the history of Division 1 basketball. The game started at 9:36 p.m. and ended at 1:22 a.m.
The boxscores, as to be expected, were chock full of awesome numbers. Eight players fouled out. Six players posted double doubles.
Jonny Flynn had 34 points and 11 assists for the Orange (25-8), playing 67 of the 70 minutes, the most of any player. Paul Harris had 29 points and 22 rebounds, while Eric Devendorf had 22 points and Rautins had 20, all but two on 3-pointers.
The Orange made 40 of 51 free throws.
"I've got no words," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said when asked to describe the second-longest Division I game ever. "I've never been prouder of any team I've coached."
A.J. Price had 33 points and 10 assists for the Huskies (27-4), while Stanley Robinson had 28 points and was one of three Connecticut players with 14 rebounds. Hasheem Thabeet had 19 points, 14 rebounds and six of the Huskies' 16 blocked shots.
"It's a loss. There was something historic about the game, certainly," Calhoun said. "Both teams competed. Rautins' big 3, A.J.'s big plays. ... I'm sure in the summertime I'll look back at what a historic battle it was. Right now. it's a loss. We wanted to play tomorrow night, and playing Friday night in Madison Square Garden, playing in the semifinals, is pretty special."
One team sure to be giddy over the six-overtime instant classic between Syracuse and Connecticut is unranked bubble-team West Virginia. The seventh-seeded Moutaineers who played the earlier (much earlier in this case) game made some history of their own by knocking out the No. 2 team in the country Pittsburgh. Now after Thursday night's marathon, their chances of prevailing over the exhausted Orangemen look even better.
Meanwhile top-seeded and fifth-ranked Louisville will meet fourth-seeded and Villanova (No. 13, No. 10) in the other semifinal.
A dream scenario for West Virginia, however, might turn the BIg East tournament into a nightmare for everyone else. For a conference that sports three of the top five teams in the country, tournament time represents a wonderful opportunity to show off your pedigree. What could have been a well-hyped rematch of two conference powerhouses who at one point held the number one ranking in the country, will now be a significantly less heralded and influential sixth-seed versus seven-seed affair.
Conference commissioner Mike Tranghese is in his final season as chief of the Big East, a position he took over in 1990. His legacy as the man who helped navigate the Big East through murkier times to their current standing as one of the power basketball conferences in the NCAA could get a boost from championship, or at least deep run into the tournament. But if those teams suffer early exits, and this is the best he gets, you wonder if he'll go out slightly disappointed for receiving the wrong sort of history for his final hurrah.