WASHINGTON (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.
Saturday’s Marquette-Syracuse game will be the ninth time since the field expanded to 64 teams that two schools from the same conference played in the regional final.
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.”
Continue Reading: Marquette-Syracuse means Big East in Final Four (The Associated Press)