Friday, April 5, 2013

Orange vs. Orange

The NCAA men's basketball tournament is an interesting animal, in that it gets progressively less interesting as it goes along.

Actually, you could make a case that its most interesting moments occur from the Selection Show - which is great theater in its own right - until play actually begins. That's the time when everyone puts together brackets, talks about which teams will reach the Final Four and agonizes over whether or not to pick one double-digit seed so early in the tournament.

And then there are the first two rounds (no, not the play-in round).

That Thursday and Friday are awesome. Wall-to-wall games. All day and night. And if one game is a blowout, well, then there's always another one that's heart-stopping, probably with some team from some small conference trying to pull a massive upset.

After the first two rounds, though, it starts to slow. And now that it's the Final Four, well, most of the steam is gone.

It happens every year.

The big story from this tournament won't be whoever wins. Even the fact that a ninth-seed (Wichita State) is in the Final Four isn't that big a deal.

No, the big stories will be Florida Gulf Coast's "Dunk City" act and of course the injury to Louisville's Kevin Ware. Hey, nobody will be a bigger winner from this tournament than Andy Enfield.

Anyway, TigerBlog will stick with his picks from earlier. Louisville and Michigan in the final. Louisville to win.

For TigerBlog, the big event involving Syracuse this weekend isn't the men's basketball semifinal against Michigan.

It's the men's lacrosse game between the Orange and Princeton, to be played tomorrow (unless you're reading this Saturday, in which case it's today) at 5 on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

Of every non-Ivy League rivalry that TigerBlog has experienced with Princeton, his favorite is the men's lacrosse one with Syracuse.

TigerBlog remembers putting together the schedule for the 2001 men's lacrosse season, and at the end, he put NCAA quarterfinal, NCAA semifinal and then finally NCAA championship game vs. Syracuse.

It was a joke of course, one he didn't intend to go in the final product. Except he never changed it back before he sent it out.

Actually, it's not funny. TB knows of all kinds of examples where people did that, even to the point of losing their jobs, as well as others who caught it at the last minute or else they would have lost their jobs.

Anyway, Princeton and Syracuse did play in the 2001 NCAA final. And the one in 2000. And the one in 2002. And 1992. The teams split those four games, three of which were one-goal games and two of which were overtime (both of which Princeton won, on goals by Andy Moe in 1992 and B.J. Prager in 2001).

 Every year from 1992 and 2003, Princeton's lacrosse season ended with either an NCAA championship (six times) or an NCAA tournament loss to Syracuse (six times). Princeton was 4-6 against Syracuse and 21-0 against everyone else in NCAA tournament games during those 12 years.

TigerBlog remembers leaving Rutgers after the 2001 NCAA semifinal win over Towson, before Syracuse and Notre Dame finished their game. While driving on Route 1, TB was hoping Syracuse would win, because he thought an NCAA championship that year without a win over Syracuse in the final wouldn't be satisfying.

There have been epic games between the two besides the NCAA championship games, and TB could write forever about the intensity of some of those meetings. 

The 2013 meeting between Princeton and Syracuse is big for both, since the winner will walk away with a likely Top 10 win and a huge leg up in the at-large criteria, should either not win its conference's automatic bid.

The teams are somewhat mirror images right now.

Both are 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the league. Both have two losses by one goal, and not just any one-goal losses, but losses of 16-15 and 11-10.

Princeton has scored 100 goals in eight games. Syracuse has scored 101. Princeton has allowed 72. Syracuse has allowed 70.

The game should end around 7, which means Syracuse will be on its bus about the time of tip-off for the basketball game. As TB understands it, the bus has satellite TV, so the team can watch it on the way home.

TB will half pay attention as well.

After all, it's the men's basketball Final Four. Only it's not as big a deal to him as the first weekend of the tournament.

Or as Princeton-Syracuse men's lacrosse.

No comments: