WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — When two teams from the same conference meet with a Final Four berth at stake, fans think it’s great from a rivalry and bragging rights perspective. Conference administrators hear cash registers ringing as NCAA shares are earned.
But coaches? Not a chance.
The first of those nine times was in 1987. Georgetown, a No. 1 seed just four years from winning a national championship, met Providence, an up-and-coming program under up-and-coming coach Rick Pitino, in the South Regional final.
Georgetown coach John Thompson was asked Friday about playing a team from the same conference with such a big prize at stake.
Three times, he colorfully said that it was a pain in the posterior.
“They know you and you know them. There’s no surprise. No coach wants to get somebody from within your league,” said Thompson, who is working as a radio analyst. “When they watch tape it’s not Georgetown-Villanova or Georgetown-Syracuse, it’s Georgetown and you. You’re in the film as you’re watching it.
“It’s hard enough to beat a team you know nothing about. It’s a lot harder to beat a team that knows you really well.”
Neither Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim nor Marquette coach Buzz Williams described what they were about to face in the same terms as Thompson, but it was easy to tell they weren’t thrilled about the opponent.
“They know us, that’s a fact, they know how to play against us, they’re used to that, and we understand them, what they do,” said Boeheim, who is trying to the Orange to the Final Four for the fourth time. “So I think that’s all part of playing somebody that you know. They’re going to understand what to do and hopefully we will understand what we need to do as well.”
Williams, who is a win away from his first Final Four, didn’t mince words.
“I don’t want to play Syracuse again,” he said. “You know them and you know their zone, I know all that. I don’t want to play them. I would rather play somebody else. But it’s part of having so many good teams in our league that go to the NCAA tournament.”
Marquette won the only meeting this season 74-71 after trailing by as many as 11 points. It was their only meeting because of the unbalanced schedule that comes with a 15-team league.
In the past, some of the conference opponents playing for a Final Four berth had met three times before the tournament, and sometimes that had a lot to do with who moved on.
Will the Orange keep it rolling against Marquette? Share your predictions below…
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