2012 Big East Conference Tournament
Friday, 3/9/12, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, TV: ESPN
#1 Syracuse Orange (31-1, 18-1 Big East) vs. #4 Cincinnati Bearcats (23-9, 13-6)
Madison Square Garden – New York, New York
Opening Line: Syracuse -7.5
Current Line: Syracuse -7.5
Current Total: 126.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
The second-ranked and top-seeded Syracuse Orange will face their second straight opponent that was extended to overtime in the Big East Conference tournament when they meet the fourth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats on Friday in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. The Bearcats (23-9, 13-6 Big East) are coming off a 72-70 double overtime win against No. 5 seed Georgetown while the Orange (31-1, 18-1) edged No. 9 Connecticut 58-55 on Thursday.
Syracuse (-7.5, O/U 126.5) has won 11 straight games after beating the defending conference tournament and national champion Huskies for the third time. The Orange’s winning streak started with a 60-53 road victory at Cincinnati on January 23, two days after suffering their only loss of the season 67-58 at No. 3 Notre Dame. The win over the Bearcats is just one of four games the team has covered during the streak and it came without sophomore center Fab Melo, who was serving a suspension due to a previously unresolved academic issue.
Poor shooting nearly cost Syracuse a spot in the semis, as seniors Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine combined to make just 2 of 14 shots from the field. Fortunately for the Orange, Joseph scored eight of his 10 points at the free-throw line while sophomore guard Dion Waiters had a team-high 18 on 8 of 11 shooting in 24 minutes off the bench. Their depth has been huge all season and played a big role against UConn, with reserve forward James Southerland also hitting a couple huge shots late in the game and scoring all 10 of his points in the last eight minutes.
Cincinnati showed a lot of grit and determination in disposing of Georgetown for the fourth straight time later in the day. The Bearcats were down by 11 points with 8:30 remaining in regulation before senior forward Yancy Gates took over, scoring 10 consecutive points to help them come back and actually take a late lead before Otto Porter forced the first OT for the Hoyas. Gates totaled a game-high 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the winners, who advanced despite missing 19 of 21 attempts from 3-point range and will now be trying to make it to their first Big East championship game.
Syracuse has won the last four meetings with Cincy and six of the past seven, including a 74-73 victory the lone time they have played each other in the Big East tournament back in 2006. The Orange rode Gerry McNamara to the title that year, and they have also beaten the spread in the last four games between the teams with the UNDER cashing in the past three.
The winner will play the winner between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 7 Louisville on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. (ET) for the championship.