SU heads to final Big East tournament

In the Orange's final tournament as a member of the Big East conference, Syracuse looks to end its recent woes.

When the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team takes the court at Madison Square Garden this Wednesday, they will begin their final Big East tournament. After this season, the Orange will call the Atlantic Coast Conference home, and play their conference championship at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The switch in conferences has been a point of issue for many of the university's sports, especially men's basketball, of which coach Jim Boeheim voiced his concerns early in the process. The move in conferences not only signals a change for the Syracuse sports teams, but also for the Big East as a whole, which will cease to exist in it's current formation, thanks in part to Syracuse's departure. The new Catholic 7 conference may adopt the Big East moniker, but naming and realignment have yet to be finalized.

Regardless of who is a member of a conference called the Big East (if one does adopt it) next year, this will be the finale in the Big East for the Orange men's basketball team. Since it's establishment in 1979, Syracuse has been a member of the Big East conference. The changing of the conferences comes at fitting time, with senior leaders Brandon Triche and James Southerland leaving after playing in their final season of eligibility. This one final Big East tournament should prove to be something special, with the finality of its existence.

The Orange, who have struggled mightily as of late, come into their final Big East tournament appearance with their worst regular season record since the 2008-2009 season. Syracuse (23-8, 11-7 Big East) will take on the winner of Tuesday's South Florida-Seton Hall game on Wednesday at 2 pm.

Syracuse is also in the midst of its worst stretch of games in recent memory. Syracuse has lost four of its last five and eight of its last 13. The last two Orange victories came against the perennial Big East bottom-feeder DePaul (78-57) and similarly weak Providence (84-59). The Orange's record ties them for fifth in the conference with Notre Dame, who will face the winner of the other play-in game between Rutgers and DePaul.

The Orange look to have a lack of identity, which at the end of the season is a major problem. Syracuse needs find out who they are during the Big East tournament, or it could be an early exit in the NCAA tournament.

Rumors swirl around the team, including head coach Jim Boeheim's possible retirement, assistant coach Mike Hopkins' supposed departure for USC, star sophomore Michael Carter-Williams potential entrance into the NBA Draft following the season. Of course, all of these rumors are just that until after Syracuse finishes their season. The Orange must find its away around these off-court distractions and on-court woes in order to leave the Big East respectably.

The Big East tournament signals a completely different style of schedule, going from games twice a week to a game almost every day. Whether the increase in the number of games will work in the Orange's favor is yet to be determined, but a change of scenery can't hurt the team that has looked lost at times.

Syracuse has the ability and should win at least one game in the Big East tournament. The Orange were one of the top teams in the nation a few weeks ago, and have proven to be an incredibly strong team against the weaker half of the Big East conference. Syracuse is also not automatically a loser in the Big East. In fact, each of the teams above Syracuse in Big East rankings could easily lose to the Orange. Syracuse beat Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame this season. SU only lost to Marquette by three points, and something suggests that the Orange would not let Georgetown beat them three times in one season.

Coming into the post-season on a losing streak is never something a team wants to do, but for a team that lost it's way about a month ago, maybe the dire situation of a win or go home situation will inspire the Orange, and they will make a good run in the Big East tournament. 

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