Georgetown to Open Big East Play Against DePaul

After a grueling regular-season schedule that saw Georgetown (7-5) play both No. 4 Maryland (11-1) and No. 15 Duke (9-2), Georgetown will start its conference schedule in Chicago against DePaul (6-6) after losing three home games against unranked teams to start the season.

Most pundits have projected Georgetown’s making the NCAA tournament as a long shot, its difficult conference schedule being its only saving grace. The Big East ranks as the third most difficult conference in college basketball according to RPI and the fifth most difficult according to KenPom.com. Media rankings reflect both measurements, as the conference boasts four teams in the top 20 of the AP Poll.

Georgetown and DePaul sport two of the three worst records among Big East teams. With both teams trying to start conference play on the right note, Wednesday’s contest is likely to be extremely competitive.

Georgetown’s offense has stagnated since starting the season in the top 25 teams based on offensive efficiency. They now rank 65th, with much of that drop-off due to the regressed play of sophomore forward Isaac Copeland and senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes. Copeland was the team’s leading scorer for much of the start of the season, but he has since seen a drop in his shooting percentages and raw averages.

Hayes was averaging a double-double to start the season, but splitting time at center with improving freshman center Jessie Govan has left Hayes inconsistent and turnover-prone, with 22 on the season — the second most on the team.

On the DePaul side, junior guard Billy Garrett leads the way for the Blue Demons, averaging over 14 points per game. Senior forward Myke Henry averages over 13 points per game while shooting an efficient 59 percent from the field. Both of the team’s top scorers led the way for the Blue Demons when they handed then-No. 20 George Washington (11-2) a 21-point loss at home, a signature win for DePaul going into conference play.

After coming off a season low in points scored (62) against Charlotte (3-9), Georgetown must win a large percentage of its Big East matchups, especially against teams that still have a lower rank than it — including DePaul and St. John’s (7-6) — if it has any shot of making it to the Big Dance. However, a near loss against a small-conference school to bookend two straight home losses has slowed the momentum that the Hoyas need to carry them through their conference schedule.

Still, Georgetown has followed a trend of stepping up against stiffer competition, and facing off against a familiar Big East foe could be just the opportunity the team is looking for to get back on track. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 pm on Fox Sports 1.

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