Georgetown and Syracuse are ready to revive one of college basketball's all-time rivalries, though Saturday's clash between the storied programs bears little resemblance to games of years past.
It was known the Hoyas and 14th-ranked Orange wouldn't be facing each other as conference members. It was not expected, however, that Jim Boeheim wouldn't be coaching in the schools' first meeting since Syracuse bolted the Big East for the ACC.
The Orange head to the nation's capital two days after the NCAA upheld Boeheim's nine-game suspension as part of sanctions levied against the program for various infractions. However, he is now allowed to begin serving the penalty immediately instead of the originally scheduled start date of Dec. 30, when Syracuse opens ACC play at Pittsburgh.
Though Boeheim will now only miss Syracuse's first three league games under the new ruling, the Hall of Fame coach wasn't pleased by the short timing of the announcement.
"Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed with the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee's decision, and in particular, the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee giving us only two days to make this transition, when the appeal was argued weeks ago," Boeheim said in a statement.
As a result, Boeheim won't be part of a Syracuse-Georgetown game for the first time since December 1967. He was the head coach for every one of the Orange's 73 matchups with Georgetown during their 34-year membership in the Big East that ended in 2013.
Longtime assistant Mike Hopkins will run the team until Boeheim is eligible to return for the Orange's Jan. 9 game against North Carolina.
Saturday's showdown lost a little more shine after Syracuse (6-1) was knocked from the unbeaten ranks with Wednesday's 66-58 overtime defeat to Wisconsin in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Orange, picked ninth in the ACC preseason poll, had climbed into the AP Top 25 after a surprise title at least week's Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, where they posted notable wins over Connecticut and Texas A&M.
After shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range during its 6-0 start, Syracuse went a season-worst 7 of 24 while also struggling from the foul line against Wisconsin. The Orange made 11 of 20 free throws and missed four of their final five in regulation.
''We had great opportunities to keep the lead and when you don't, when you miss those and you give the other team a chance, they're going to make it eventually," Boeheim said.
Though Georgetown (3-3) has had a more inconsistent start, it's won two straight and owns a victory over Wisconsin after holding the Badgers to 31.7 percent shooting in a 71-61 decision Nov. 20 at Madison Square Garden.
The Hoyas have limited each of their last two opponents under 50 points and 36 percent. They forced 19 turnovers while getting a bounce-back game from D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera in Tuesday's 68-49 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore. The senior guard amassed 30 points three days after scoring just nine on 3-of-12 shooting against Bryant.
"I finally feel like the weight is off my shoulders a little bit," he said. "Coach (John Thompson III) has been telling me to keep playing, shots were going to fall eventually."
Syracuse hopes freshmen standouts Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon can get back on track after combining to go 1 of 10 from 3 against Wisconsin. Richardson managed just eight points after beginning his college career with six straight double-figure games, while Lydon was 10 of 17 from beyond the arc prior to an 0-for-3 effort on Wednesday.
Saturday's game begins a four-year home-and-home series between the schools and marks the first meeting since Syracuse's 58-55 overtime triumph in the 2013 Big East tournament semifinals. It will be the first nonconference matchup in the series since Dec. 27, 1974.