Fran Fraschilla joined ESPN as a college basketball game and studio analyst in 2003. He has served as the analyst on ESPN’s Big Monday Big 12 telecast since the 2004 season. In addition to men’s college basketball, Fraschilla has been an analyst on ESPN’s NBA Draft coverage since 2004 and the network’s NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship since 2006.
Fraschilla coached at the collegiate level for 23 years, posting an overall record of 175-100. When he joined ESPN, he ranked as the 34th winningest active coach in men’s college basketball. His teams made eight post-season appearances in nine years, including three NCAA Tournaments (1993, 1995 and 1998).
Fraschilla, along with John Saunders will be at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to call the Syracuse versus Georgetown game as part of ESPN’s Rivalry Week. He recently spoke with me to give his take of the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry.
The Juice Online: Where does the Syracuse/Georgetown rivalry rank in college basketball?
Fran Fraschilla: It’s certainly one of the best rivalries in college basketball because it comes out of an era when the Big East blossomed. I’m not sure the Big East would be as popular as it is today without John Thompson closing down Manley Field House and all of the great games the two schools have had with each other. When I think of this rivalry I think of Patrick Ewing, Derrick Coleman, John Wallace, Alonzo Mourning, Billy Owens, Gerry McNamara — the names go on and on. But it’s such a great rivalry because it basically helped form what may be the best college basketball league of all time. For much of the last 30 years, the rivalry has been magical.
JO: What do you think is the quintessential game of this rivalry?
FF: The last game at the Manley Field House. I think that’s the one that
gets it started for people like me. That to me was the most memorable because it was one of those defining games for Georgetown and John Thompson. He took over in the early 70s and started to build a program. But the statement, “Manley Field House is officially closed” resonates on both sides of the rivalry to this day.
JO: How far do you see these two teams going this year?
FF: I would start off by saying winning the regular season or the Big East tournament is more difficult than getting to the Final Four. Both of these teams are going to be very competitive over the final four weeks of the regular season and fight for a spot toward the top of the league. If they can survive the regular season and the Big East tournament, they’re both capable of making very long runs in March. Ironically, both have suffered through Big East losing streaks and Georgetown has rebounded well. And, I believe Syracuse is poised to come out of this recent four game slide with a better idea of who their team is.
JO: So, you’re going to be calling the Syracuse versus Georgetown game on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome on ESPN with John Saunders. Who do you have winning this game?
FF: I would give the edge it the series more often than not to the home team. Without copping out, I think both teams are fairly evenly matched. I don’t think either team can catch Pittsburgh, but both teams can contend for the double-bye in the Big East tournament. If I have to go out on a limb, I’ll take the Orangemen on a Rick Jackson tip in with time running out. How is that for dipolmacy?
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.