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Pitoniak: Jackson snub ridiculous

Jackson snubbed, new motivation?

Jackson snub ridiculous

Reported by Scott Pitoniak

Jim Boeheim has every right to be livid about forward/center Rick Jackson being left off the All-Big East Conference team despite leading the league in rebounding, blocked shots, field goal percentage and double-doubles. And for a change the Syracuse basketball coaching legend can�t blame we media types for the obvious snub because it wasn�t our call.

Boeheim and his coaching peers vote on these awards, and they proved they are clueless by electing six guards and nary a single big man on the first team.

This is pure lunacy.

Heck, I thought Jackson was deserving of Big East Player-of-the-Year consideration.  I thought a spot on the first team was a foregone conclusion.

If there is a bright side to this stupidity it�s that we won�t have to worry about Mr. Jackson being a tad more motivated when SU tips off in the Big East Tournament on Thursday.

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Bracketologist extraordinaire Joe Lunardi has the Cuse seeded third in the NCAA West Region behind top-seeded Duke and second-seeded Brigham Young. I�d love that bracket if I were SU because I think it would be the easiest path for it to reach the Final Four.

There�s still a chance the Orange men could secure a No. 2 seed if they were to win the Big East Tournament, but with just one win, they seem a lock for that third seed.

As of now, I see 10 Big East clubs making the tournament � SU, Pitt, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Louisville, St. John�s, Cincinnati, Connecticut and West Virginia. And if Marquette wins two games at Madison Square Garden, they probably will receive a bid, too.

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I�ve often thought that if you already have a fairly high seed locked up for the NCAA tournament, you might be better off not making it all the way to the Big East Finals. My theory being that it�s better to have fresh legs and bodies for the Big Dance than the Big East.

To test my theory, I researched SU�s 31 Big East tournaments and what transpired afterwards. In the five times the Orange men won it all in the Big Apple, the furthest they advanced was the second round of the NCAAs (1988 and �92). After winning the Big East in 2005 and 2006, they lost in the first round of the NCAAs, and after winning the second Big East Tournament in 1981 in the Carrier Dome, they were shipped off to the NIT. (It wasn�t until the NCAA field expanded the following year that the conference tournament champion received an automatic berth.)

Their national championship in 2003 was preceded by a 1-1 record in the Big East. They lost in the Big East title game in 1987 and 1996 � seasons in which they lost in the NCAA finals.

Last year�s conference tournament saw Syracuse lose to Georgetown after having received a double-bye. Though that loss didn�t prevent the Orange men from earning one of the four top seeds in the NCAA, it did prove costly because that was the contest where center Arinze Onuaku tore his leg muscle, effectively killing the �Cuse�s chances for a national title.

Interestingly, in six of the eight times the Orange men have lost their initial Big East Tournament game, they reached the Sweet 16, but didn�t go any further.

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Whether it impacts whether Syracuse plays into April may be up for debate, but there�s no question that the Big East Tournament has produced some indelible Orange hoop moments.

Who will ever forget Leo Rautins� tip-in basket in the Carrier Dome back in 1981 to beat Villanova in triple-overtime in the championship game? Or those classic battles between Pearl Washington and Georgetown�s Patrick Ewing? Or Gerry McNamara�s four-game stretch in 2006, when he showed Big East coaches just how �overrated� he was by nailing 16 3�s to lead SU to the title?

But the greatest SU hoops moment in the Garden remains the 127-117 victory against UConn in six overtimes two years ago. The Orange men didn�t take their first lead until Andy Rautins � son of Leo � hit a deep jumper 10 seconds into the final extra session. The game lasted three hours and 46 minutes and ended at 1:22 in the morning. Jonny Flynn had 34 points � 26 during the OTs � and 11 assists while playing 67 of a possible 70 minutes. People forget that SU needed overtime the next night to defeat West Virginia. No wonder they ran out of gas in the championship game against Louisville.


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