The second half of Big East play picks up for the Hoyas on Wednesday, with a home tilt against South Florida. At 6-3, two-and-a-half games behind conference leader Villanova with Pitt, Syracuse, and West Virginia filling the second through fourth spots, it looks like Georgetown’s dream of a conference title are fading fast. Look a little closer, though, and the idea of the Hoyas being in the thick of the race in late February doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Because of the Big East’s imbalanced conference scheduling, Georgetown has played an inordinately hard schedule, leaving them with what will be a much easier road down the stretch. Let’s take a team-by-team look:
Four road games remain, but they are against Providence, Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia. It’s more than reasonable to expect a 3-1 record in those games. The five remaining home games include two payback games (Syracuse, Nova), as well as some potentially challenging but very winnable games versus USF, Notre Dame, and Cincy. 5-0 is not unreasonable, even if 4-1 is probably more likely. I’m gonna say anything less than 13-5 is a pretty big disappointment, with 14-4 being a real possibility.
Villanova (nickname: the Scottie Reynolds)
Nova has cruised through an incredibly easy schedule thus far, having only had to play one of the other contenders (GU, in Philly). But in the second half of their season, the Wildcats will go through a brutal stretch, at one point playing on the road against each of the other four contenders in a three-week span. Throw in a tough final week (@ Cincy, vs. WVU), and it’s hard to see how Nova will finish any better than 14-4.
Much like Nova, West Virginia loaded up on in-conference cupcakes and now actually has some tests coming up. Unlike Nova, they get most of them at home. They’ve got home-and-homes against both Pitt and Nova to complement trap road-games against Providence and UCONN and visits from the Hoyas and Bearcats. Managing splits in the home-and-homes would be a huge accomplishment, and getting through their other tests unscathed is highly unlikely. Looks like 12-6 or 13-5 for the ‘Neers.
Pitt probably has the easiest remaining schedule of the five teams still in the race (and of course, as I type this they are getting completely outplayed by USF). The previously mentioned home-and-home against WVU looms large. A seven-day stretch that includes @Marquette, vs. Nova, @ ND will be tough, but you can expect them to come out of it 2-1. I’d be surprised if this team wasn’t 13-5 or 14-4.
And this brings us to Syracuse. Apparently the Orange have been bribing the Big East schedule-maker. They play only one home-and-home against the other elite teams in the conference, and get two of the other three at home. So far they’ve gone 2-1 against that competition, with only a visit to Verizon and a visit from Villanova left. Games at Cincinnati and Louisville will also be challenging, but they should be able to get one of them. Don’t expect them to lose at home again, though. This team is headed for 15-3, with 14-4 a remote possibility.
So there you have it: the Hoyas’ chances are slim, but either second-place or a massive 14-4 tie at the top of the conference are both in play. Certainly, though, a bye in New York is very much in play if we can continue to be consistent. The next four games are key, as we should be favored in all four. If we manage to get through each of those unscathed, we’ll head into the last five with a fighting chance.
(I apologize for the complete lack of cynicism in this FanPost. I hope the display of abundant, teenage delusion is acceptable to this global phenomenon's admins)