We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months. You have too. In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while. Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage. Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face. Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep. Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style. The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go. Are you? To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month. We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er. Or whatever. Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with. That’s the hope, at least. We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so for the next two days, we’ll be re-visiting some of the timeless moments from Championship Week. Enjoy.
Dateline: 2009 Big East Tournament – Syracuse vs. Connecticut
Context: Once in a very long while, a game comes along that unites a generation of fans, and this 2009 Big East quarterfinal matchup was such a game even though it was only a quarterfinal in a conference tournament. Where were you when… will start the discussion, and any fan of the sport will be able to seamlessly jump right into the conversation no matter his age or location. Everyone will be able to faithfully answer that question in five, ten, twenty, or fifty years. “I was at my brother’s house sitting on his sofa when Devo hit the three,” will say one; “Not me, I was actually on the road that night, but I kept having my wife give me updates over the phone,” will say another. This game was such compelling theater that Madison Avenue has already made a commercial referencing it (starring Jay Bilas) and the Big East Conference has an entire website devoted to it at SixOvertimes.com. And yet, unlike most games of such posthumous magnitude, this one doesn’t have a signature moment… er, not one that counted, at least. At the end of regulation, after a Kemba Walker putback layup for UConn to tie the game 71-all with 1.1 seconds remaining, Syracuse inbounded the ball the length of the court; it was partially deflected and then caught by Eric Devendorf, who turned and drilled what appeared to be the game-winner from 28 feet. Multiple replays showed the ball still barely touching his fingertips as the red light came on, so the basket was negated and the two teams continued to play. And play they did. Even though there was no true signature moment that defined the six overtimes, there were plenty of great smaller moments: Rick Jackson’s dunk in OT to send the game into another period; Walker’s halfcourt near-miss at the end of the second OT; Paul Harris’ Charles Smith moment under the rim in the fourth; Jeff Adrien on the floor after missing the game-winner in the fifth extra period; the fact that Syracuse never so much as held a lead from the end of regulation until the sixth overtime. In fact, a reasonable argument could be made that the story of this game might be the incredible number of missed shots that both teams had to win it throughout the first five overtimes, but our takeaway here was sheer volume – the number of points (244), the minutes of live action (70), the length of the game (3 hours, 46 minutes), even the number of fouls (66) and disqualifications (eight, including six starters). In fitting with the Big East and NYC attitude, everything about this game was more, and by the end of the night when an exhausted couple of teams shook hands completely spent in the wee hours of the morning (1:22 am), everyone in the building knew that they had witnessed a classic that will not soon be forgotten in the annals of this league.