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The Race to the Big East Finish Line

<em>Future Hoya sneaks on display here.</em>
Future Hoya sneaks on display here.

Your Georgetown Hoyas are in a tight conference race. While Louisville's loss to Syracuse Monday night gave the Hoyas a slight lead over the Cardinals, and Wednesday night wins by Notre Dame, South Florida, and Cincinnati further stiffened the competition. All that action has left Georgetown in a tie for fourth place with the Bulls, which the Hoyas already beat.

But with five games left, mobility upward or downward is still a possibility. Second place is within reach, as Georgetown is within a game of both Marquette and Notre Dame, both of which they play in the regular season's last week. A 3-2 finish would leave the Hoyas at 12-6 which, as you'll see below, should give them fourth place and the Big East Tournament double-bye that goes with a top-four finish. But sliding down to fifth or worse, and in turn having to play a day earlier at MSG, also is possible, as South Florida, Louisville, and Cincinnati all would love to snag the double-bye out from under the Hoyas.

So where will the Hoyas finish? Read more after the jump about how this mess might play out, then vote.


Below you'll see the teams that still appear to be within reach of a double-bye, as well as their projected finish (thanks to the infallible wizard Ken Pomeroy; projections current through Tuesday). As you can see, these projections place the Hoyas in nearly a dead heat with Notre Dame for third place, and are closer to Marquette in second than Louisville in fifth. But as any half-wit failed Big East coach analyst during broadcasts of Hoya games can tell you, games are played on the court, not Pomeroy's spreadsheets, and an unexpected loss could dramatically change the odds.

  1. Syracuse. Currently: 26-1 (overall), 13-1 (conference). Remaining games: at Rutgers; South Florida; at Connecticut; Louisville. That sound you hear is thousands of soon-to-be-obsolete T-shirts being printed. Projected remaining wins: 3.26. Projected finish: 16.26 wins, 1st place.
  2. Marquette. Currently: 21-5 (overall), 10-3 (conference). Remaining games: at Connecticut; Rutgers; at West Virginia; at Cincinnati; Georgetown. Marquette is hot, having won 8 of 9, but the closing stretch figures to include some nail-biters. Except for a match-up against Rutgers in which they'll be heavily favored, the Golden Eagles have between a 49 and 57 percent chance of winning their remaining games. Projected finish: 12.89 wins, 3rd place.
  3. Notre Dame. Currently: 17-8 (overall), 10-3 (conference). Remaining games: at Villanova; West Virginia; at St. John's; at Georgetown; Providence. Mike Brey's team's performance sure looks like smoke and mirrors, but seven straight wins in the conference, including victories over Syracuse and Marquette, are converting skeptics. The Irish's Feb. 27 showdown with your beloved Hoyas looms large. Projected finish: 12.94 wins, 2nd place.
  4. Georgetown. Currently: 19-5 (overall), 9-4 (conference). Remaining games: at Providence; at Seton Hall; Villanova; Notre Dame; at Marquette. Before the season began, only the most delusional of us would have turned up our noses at 9-4 through 13 conference games. But now that we're here, don't we all want more? Projected finish: 12.5 wins, 4th place.
  5. South Florida. Currently: 15-10 (overall), 9-4 (conference). Remaining games: at Pittsburgh; at Syracuse; Cincinnati; at Louisville; West Virginia. The Bulls' rout of Villanova kept their charmed run going, but a brutal closing stretch may sink their post-season hopes. Projected finish: 10.55 wins, 7th place.
  6. Louisville. Currently: 20-6 (overall), 8-5 (conference). Remaining games: at DePaul; at Cincinnati; Pittsburgh; South Florida; at Syracuse. Thanks to six straight wins, the Cards are back in the hunt, but but Monday night's home loss to the Orange, coupled with previous losses to Marquette, Notre Dame, and Georgetown, makes a double-bye much tougher. Projected finish: 11.12 wins, 5th place.
  7. Cincinnati. Currently: 18-8 (overall), 8-5 (conference). Remaining games: Seton Hall; Louisville; at South Florida; Marquette; at Villanova. The Bearcats beat the Hoyas, and so may have the best chance to pass them, thanks to tiebreakers. But they also have ground to make up, and face a tough three-game stretch against other top-half teams. Projected finish: 10.73 wins, 6th place.


As you may have already protested to your computer screen, the Hoyas won't actually win 12.5 conference games, nor will they finish a fraction behind Marquette or Notre Dame. More likely, two or more teams listed above will end up in a tie; for the Hoyas, such a tie may be at 12-6, with Notre Dame, Louisville, or some other squad. In that case, we'll need to turn to the hallowed Big East tie-breakers, handed down to us by the ancients. The basic gist is that a tie of two teams is broken by those teams' record against one another; if that doesn't do the trick, the tied teams' comparative records against teams placed higher in the standings. Three or more tied teams are grouped into a mini-conference, and the best record against the teams within that group prevails.

In other words, Georgetown's wins over Marquette, South Florida, and Louisville help, while losses to Cincinnati and, to a lesser degree, Syracuse hurt. Remaining games against the Irish and Golden Eagles are extra important, as they not only will shift those teams up or down the standings, but may break any tie that results.