With Georgetown’s 38-week streak of being in the AP Top 25 now a distant memory, it’s time to focus on the only thing that matters as the rest of the season unfolds: making the NCAA Tournament. At 13-9 and 4-7 in Conference, it’s not going to make a difference to the Selection Committee how hard our schedule has been this season unless the team can start winning games. To that end, let’s take a realistic look at the rest of the schedule, and what the Hoyas need to accomplish as March beckons.
02/14: at Syracuse – After the disastrous loss to the Bearcraps, this game is as close to a MUST WIN as they come. Despite the Hoyas’ impressive performance against Les Orange at Verizon last month, that game and even that team seem like a distant memory. Hoyas have been disastrous at the Carrier Dome in recent years, and I expect this trend to continue as the 3-2 Zone that the Hoyas were able to shoot out of at Verizon will suffocate Monroe inside as the shots fail to fall before 30,000+ on Valentine’s Day.
Prediction: Cuse 74, Hoyas 65. 13-10 (4-8)
02/18: at S. Florida – With a split in the previous two games, the Hoyas MUST win this game in Tampa. Jessie Sapp remains the only member of the Hoyas squad of three years ago that waltzed into Tampa and was defeated by a clearly inferior Bulls squad. If Sapp contributes nothing else this season (he hasn’t), he has to make sure these guys have their heads straight in this one. I expect a similar ugly effort as in the Rutgers game, and a similar outcome. Prediction: Hoyas 69, South Florida 56. 14-10 (5-8)
02/21: MARQUETTE – Here we go. As of now the single most important (and winnable) game left on our schedule. A win over the overachieving Warriors at Verizon would give the Hoyas another marquee win over a top 10 team to pad the Tourney resume and virtually make it impossible for the Committee to ignore Georgetown come Selection Sunday. Adding to the upside is the Hoyas celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1984 championship squad at halftime, which is sure to fire up the crowd and prevent the kind of lackadaisical effort that has plagued us all season. The Wallace/Green/Hibbert squads came out firing in these games, usually reducing the opponent to shreds early in the 2nd half. I’m not sure this season’s squad has that fire, but assuming we can rebound and take advantage of size in this matchup (Monroe was being guarded by guys 6’5" at Marquette) and more importantly DICTATE TEMPO, the Hoyas should bank this one.
Prediction: Hoyas 77, Warriors 71. 15-10 (6-8)
02/23: LOUISVILLE – The Cardinals are an odd team, sometimes looking unbeatable and other times looking average. The key to beating L’ville is similar to beating Marquette – beat them inside and have them play at the Hoyas pace. Summers is going to have to show up BIG in this one - guarding Earl Clark on one end and taking the pressure off Monroe against fellow freshman Samardo Samuels on the other. Normally I’d tend to be optimistic, but playing the Cardinals two days after Marquette s likely going to be too much to handle. Man, I hope we beat Marquette.
Prediction: L’ville 78, Hoyas 64. 15-11 (6-9)
02/28: at Villanova – A 5 day layoff and our size should be enough to beat Nova, who is playing at a very high level right now. The key to this game, as always, is defending Scottie Reynolds and preventing the ‘Cats from getting open looks outside the arc. If our defense resembles anything like our defense in the past few gamese, we’ll get drilled. Nova has an impressive record, but I just don't think they're that good. This one is a toss-up.
Prediction: Nova 68, Hoyas 56. 15-12 (6-10).
03/03: at St. John's – With a .500 conference record out of the question, the Hoyas end conference play with two ‘bunnies’ at St. John’s and v. Depaul. The Johnnies game is the more difficult of the two, as it is the last road game of the season. MSG has been very friendly to the Hoyas in recent years, and I suspect the trend to continue in this one, as St. John’s has already been decimated by injuries and Monroe should have a field day inside in front of the always pro-Hoya crowd.
Prediction: Hoyas 76, Johnnies 60. 16-12 (7-10)
03/07: DEPAUL – Senior Day at Verizon against the worst team in the Conference in a must-win? Sapp should go off for at least 6 points in this one.
Prediction: Hoyas 78, Blue Demons 60. 17-12 (8-10)
With 17 wins and the #1 Strength of Schedule in the nation, it's still likely going to take more than 1 win (most likely 2) in the Big East Tourney to make the Dance. An 8-10 Conference record should prevent us from having to play on Tuesday, but frankly, it will be easier to get wins on Tuesday and Wednesday than later in the week.
Bring on the Zags.