There is always a series of debates that take place after a truly great game like the six-overtime marathon between Syracuse and Connecticut Thursday night. With so much time and space to fill on the countless television networks, radio stations and web sites dedicated to covering sports around the clock, we can't simply enjoy the game for what it was without asking a series of questions:
Was it the greatest game every played? Was it overrated? Are we overreacting? Are we under reacting? You get the picture.
The only thing that isn't up for debate is that the game was a classic. The very fact that pundits and fans alike are debating the game's merit and place in history a day later is all the evidence needed.
For me, there are three factors or questions that need to be met for a game to be considered a classic.
1. "Where is the closest TV?"
This is usually a question that is asked during the game after you've read the score, maybe on your phone or computer, or heard about it from someone, maybe on the radio or from a person who had been watching the game. That you are scurrying to find the closest television like a 1970s detective looking for a pay phone already tells you the game has made an impact.
I was at the Pac-10 Tournament during the Syracuse-Connecticut game and the press room at the Staples Center was filled with media members and assorted game staff glued to the television while UCLA was playing Washington State a few feet away. No one even cared what the score of the UCLA-Wazzu game was as the room started to fill up with people wanting to see what was happening in New York.
2. "Are you watching this game?"
This is usually a phone call or text you get during the game, which in it of itself isn't huge, but it depends how many of them you get and from whom. For example, I got six texts about the Syracuse-Connecticut game Thursday night. The last time I got that many texts about one game was during the end of Super Bowl.
Now the biggest text came from my cousin, a casual sports fan who hasn't watched a college basketball game this season. He's the kind of quasi fan that most of us know. He follows Michael Phelps during the Olympics, watches the Super Bowl, fills out an NCAA Tournament bracket and watches the World Cup every four years. He's my barometer for when a game has transcended its sport and reached an entirely new audience. He, like many other people I'm sure, tuned in during the third overtime when a co-worker texted him about the game.
3. "Was it the greatest game?"
This is usually a question that is not only asked immediately after the game but on television and talk radio shows over the next couple days. The simple fact that terms like "greatest ever" and "all-time classic" are being bandied about is all that really matters since it's a subjective argument. There is no way to ever reach a consensus on any "greatest game ever" argument no matter how great the game is.
Most debates are obviously skewed considering the game in question is still fresh in everyone's mind. But there is no doubt that if a similar game were to take place years down the line it would be compared to the game that Syracuse and Connecticut had which makes it a classic no matter how much it is analyzed and debated.