Come on, as if it were going to be anyone else in the top spot. The Hoyas lose its star in Otto Porter but return everyone else from a team that went 25-7 and won the Big East regular season title, earned the #1 seed in the Big East Tournament, and the #2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Last Year: 25-7 NCAA Tournament
Kenpom: 12th Offense: 78th; Defense: 2nd; Tempo 301st
Key Losses: Otto Porter (Early Entry)
Key Additions: Josh Smith 6'10 Jr PF (Transfer), Reggie Cameron 6'7 Fr F
Key Returnees: Markel Starks 6'2 Sr PG, Nate Lubick 6'8 Sr PF, Moses Ayegba 6'9 Sr C, Aaron Bowen 6'6 Sr SF, John Caprio 6'5 Sr SF, Jabril Trawick 6'5 Jr SG, Mikael Hopkins 6'9 Jr PF, Greg Whittington 6'8 Jr SF(injured), D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera 6'3 So SG, Stephen Domingo 6'6 So SF, Bradley Hayes 7'0 So C
Projected Starting Lineup: PG: Markel Starks, SG: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, SF: Jabril Trawick, PF: Nate Lubick, C: Josh Smith
The reason I have Georgetown in the top spot (besides my raging homerism) is experience. The Hoyas have 5 seniors and 4 juniors. Last year the Hoyas were 298th in experience, this year it should be in the top 50. The Hoyas return everyone from a team that won the Big East and earned a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Yes, Georgetown loses Otto Porter, but there's no reason for this team to take a step backwards. Ken Pomeroy's model has Georgetown 14th in the country in its preseason rankings. While he has the Hoyas defense taking a slight step downward from 2nd to 5th, he projects the Hoyas offense to improve from 78th (105.7) to 43rd (108.2). Those rankings do not even take into account the addition of Josh Smith to the Georgetown offense.
Josh Smith is the biggest piece of the puzzle for the Georgetown Hoyas. He'll provide a valuable skill that the Hoyas didn't have last year: Offensive Rebounding. The Hoyas ranked 219th in collecting its own misses last year. As a sophomore, Josh had a 165 offensive rebound %, good for 14th in the nation. And as a slimmer freshman he pulled down 19.5%, the 2nd best mark in the nation! Josh will do wonders for the spacing in Georgetown's offense by attracting double teams and he'll make it easy for DSR and Starks to rain down three pointers. He's a true low post presence, a rich man's Davante Gardner. He's got great footwork, soft hands, and a variety of post moves.
One question that still looms is whether the big fella will start or will JT3 stick with starting Mikael Hopkins and bring the Smith off the bench similar to what Buzz Williams did last year starting Chris Otule and bringing Gardner off the bench. I could see JT3 going either way, so we'll just have to wait to find out on Friday.
The other question mark for the Hoyas is at SF. JT3 stated over the summer that he did not prefer to play a three guard lineup, but that was very early on in the summer and from an outside perspective it doesn't appear like he has much choice but to start Trawick at SF. That still leaves plenty of minutes that need to be accounted for.
There are four candidates to fill the backup or possibly eventual starting SF role. Aaron Bown, the athletic high-flyer has been on the Hilltop for four years. He can request a medical redshirt for his freshman year if he so chooses once this season is over, but it's possible this is his last go around. I think this is who most Hoya fans want to take over this spot. Bowen saw his minutes increase last year with Greg Whittington's suspension and with Greg sidelined with an injury this year he seems first in line to get the bulk of the available minutes. The next option is sophomore Stephen Domingo. Domingo graduated high school a year early to enroll in Georgetown last year, so he should only be a freshman now. He looked every bit the deer in the headlights last year, but Domingo was highly-recruited out of high school and played on the Team USA U-17 National team, so hopefully that was all just nerves and he'll be ready to contribute sooner rather than later. Freshman Reggie Cameron has the reputation of a three-point shooter in the mold of Hollis Thompson and he showed as much in Kenner League. The question for him is defense. It seems unlikely he could cover SFs at this time, but if the Hoyas go zone it could hide this deficiency. And finally, there's John Caprio. Caprio also saw an uptick in minutes last year with Whittington sidelined and is a senior presence who knows the offense and might see significant time if none of the other three are ready.
Other than the questions about Josh's conditioning and the SF position, there's nothing not to like about this group of Hoyas. Last year Georgetown shot a solid 35.3% from three, had a phenomenal defense that suffocated foes and forced the most turnovers of any JT3 team. The Hoyas have a veteran floor general in Markel Starks and with even linear improvement from all of the players, the Hoyas are going to be a forced to be reckoned with (and that's not even accounting for the sure to be breakout season for a slimmer D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera).
The Big East is different, but it's still a difficult conference that will be highly competitive, and Georgetown is still the Beast of the Big East. Just as the Hoyas hoisted the very first Big East Trophy, history will repeat itself as the Hoyas win the first title in this new iteration of the Big East.