What: Because ninth-seeded Connecticut rolled through DePaul 97-71 on Tuesday, the eighth-seeded Hoyas will wear their home grays against the Huskies.
Where: It’s the Big East tournament, which means Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City. Georgetown made a run to the title game last year, but in their only game at MSG this year, the Hoyas went down to St. John’s 61-58 on Jan. 3.
When: It’s a noon tipoff on a Wednesday, so if you can’t watch, The Hoya has you covered. I’ll be courtside in New York running an in-game discussion with stats, light play-by-play, stats, scoreboard, etc.
What It Means: The winner gets Pitt at noon on Thursday, the loser waits to see where the Selection Committee will seed them and to what city they’ll send them. Georgetown has yet to get on track offensively without Chris Wright, and even though the Hoyas think they’ll have him back for the NCAAs, there is no guarantee the point guard will play again. So it’s important for Georgetown to work things out minus No. 4 and find a way to get consistent good looks at the basket. On the other end, the Hoyas will probably go zone against Kemba Walker and UConn and hope somebody like Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (23 points in the Huskies’ 78-70 win over GU) doesn’t light it up from the area around the free-throw line.
Right now, the Hoyas are probably a 6-seed in the Big Dance, but losing their first game in the Big East tourney (meaning they will have lost five of six going into Selection Sunday) could drop them down to a 7. On the other hand, if Georgetown can somehow make it click offensively and get enough stops, a win or two in New York might get them back up to a 5.
Prediction: Zone or no zone, Walker had a big night against the Hoyas, who were playing with a healthy Wright on Feb. 16. Georgetown has a difficult time slowing down dynamic scorers, and having no Wright to worry about, the Huskies will pressure the ball all over the court. Alex Oriakhi is coming off a 19-rebound performance against DePaul, so Julian Vaughn, who has struggled scoring the basketball but who has played well defensively, Nate Lubick and company will have their hands full on the glass. The Hoyas will need to make UConn make jumpshots, slow down the tempo, and hope Austin Freeman gets help from Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson or somebody else.
Cincinnati is a difficult matchup for Georgetown, so playing the Bearcats twice down the stretch made the Hoyas look awful. Still, they scored just 51 points on senior day at Verizon Center against Syracuse, and there have been no indications that the offense will gain any consistent fluidity without Wright. The Hoyas are far easier to defend and they will not be able to slow down Walker and the Huskies enough to make up for their offensive woes.
Connecticut 71, Georgetown 55