What: It’ll be the Bearcats (21-6, 8-6 Big East) visiting the 11th-ranked Hoyas (21-6, 10-5) for a game with significant bearing on Big East tournament seeding and Cincinnati’s NCAA tournament resume.
When: For random scheduling purposes, tip-off will be at 9 p.m., meaning GTown students/fans might be drinking lots of “soda” before and during the game. The Hoyas are 10-5 in night games this season.
Where: Verizon Center will be the venue as usual tonight. The Bearcats were blown out here last season but came in and beat the Hoyas two years ago.
What It Means: For Georgetown, it’s just another game in the Big East. Senior day and Syracuse are awaiting Wright, Freeman and Vaughn on Saturday, but they cannot afford to look past Cincinnati. The Hoyas need to win to hold serve with EIGHT teams on their heels within two games of them in the loss column. Notre Dame (10-4) is at Providence tonight and St. John’s hosts DePaul. That game is in Queens, not at the Garden because the Knicks also play there, and they just traded for Carmelo Anthony, so…
As important as this game is for the Hoyas, who are trying to secure a double bye in the BE tourney and lock up a great seed in the NCAAs, it is even more vital for the Bearcats, whose record looks like one belonging to a likely NCAA tournament team. But Mick Cronin scheduled one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country and Cincy hasn’t exactly beaten anybody of note. Their one win over a top-25 opponent was against Louisville last week. They have four golden opportunities, though, before the conference tournament to move off the bubble — two meetings with the Hoyas, on the road at UConn, and at home against Marquette.
Any game is important down the stretch, but Cincinnati needs a marquee win badly, and this would certainly be a marquee win.
Prediction: It’s tough to tell just how good this Bearcats team is. Yancy Gates is their star, but he’s been hurt/inconsistent. Dion Dixon is an experienced guard who can score, but he has also been up-and-down lately. The eye test tells you that they’re a notch or two below the elite teams in the Big East, which explains why they’ve lost most of their league games to ranked teams by 8-12 points. Cincy turns it over 11 times per game and isn’t particularly explosive on offense or on the glass, but the ‘Cats can play defense.
It’ll be a grind-it-out type of game for the Hoyas, who desperately need to see Freeman get his shot back (he’s 0-12 from three since spraining that right ankle against Marquette) and need to take the energy up a level on the defensive end and on the boards. The lead might change hands a few times, but Georgetown will force the Bearcats to look elsewhere for an impressive win. Georgetown 71, Cincinnati 65