Good-bye to Syracuse – maybe

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim argues with referee Brian O'Connell during the first half against Villanova in an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. (Kevin Rivoli/AP)

Saturday may have marked Villanova’s final appearance at the Carrier Dome, as Syracuse is leaving the Big East after this season to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Wright paid tribute to Syracuse and its basketball program after the game for its role in Big East history.

“I said it to our alumni group I spoke to before the game,” he said. “I would have to say, Syracuse University, Jim Boeheim, Syracuse basketball has probably meant more to the Big East than all of us because we all get to come up and play here. We all get to go to the Garden with all the Syracuse fans. It’s probably meant more to the league than any single program.

“So I thought about (this being the last game) a lot. It’s sad, it’s really sad. I remember we played in the NCAA tournament here (in 2005) and all the people in this arena treated us like we were Syracuse, a Big East team. I think Syracuse people love the Big East. They love all the Big East teams.

“When you come up here, they treat you like gold. They just like the Orange a lot better than you, that’s all. But they treat you great. It’s one of the special places in college basketball.”

So will the Wildcats play in the Carrier Dome again? Orange coach Jim Boeheim has talked about keeping active the rivalries his team has with Villanova, St. John’s and Georgetown. And Wright said he spoke briefly after the game with Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross.

“I’m hoping we can keep this going,” he said. “We don’t like playing road games but this is a great place to come and play college basketball.”

-- Joe Juliano