We’re just a few weeks into Year 4 of the reconfigured BIG EAST and it’s never felt so new. Well, at least at the top. Yes, longtime member Villanova continues to carry the flag as the defending National Champ but after that the faces are all fresh.
For the first time since the Catholic Seven decided to go their own way rather than stick around in some sort of Frankenstein type league designed to preserve mediocre football, the three newest schools – Butler, Creighton, and Xavier – are all ranked in the same AP Top 25 poll this week. That’s quite the achievement and even more impressive when you factor in that two of those schools – Xavier and Creighton – join Villanova in the Top 10.
Bringing this back to Georgetown, the Hoyas have now been outside of the rankings for 23 straight polls. This is currently the third longest stretch under coach John Thompson III who is now in his 13th season. The second longest streak of 27 consecutive unranked weeks also happened in the BIG EAST 2.0. The longest streak? Well that was 30 weeks and it ended after beating Duke in 2006. You might remember that week.
In fact since the reboot of the conference, Georgetown has only featured in five of the 62 polls - a cool eight percent of the time - and gone unranked in two entire seasons – 2013-14 and 2015-16. The only other time a John Thompson III coached Hoyas team went an entire season outside of the rankings was in his first campaign at the school back in 2004-05. All three of those squads failed to make the NCAA Tournament.
Before the season I asked JT3 how important it was for Georgetown to be good not just for Georgetown but also for the BIG EAST. His quick response was a simply stated, “very”.
Pressed further about whether that had changed after the league changed in 2013 he went on to say, “I think that’s always been the case. Since the inception it’s been important for us to be good.”
What’s important about the new schools picking up Georgetown’s recent slack is that the last time the Hoyas struggled like this for a sustained period of time the schools that led the way for the BIG EAST are mostly gone. There were some concerns four years ago as to whether or not the new BIG EAST could continue as a top league with only Georgetown and Villanova likley carrying the torch.
So we’ve got some good news and some bad news here depending on your perspective. The good news is that the league is just fine, great even. The bad news for Georgetown fans is that the league doesn’t appear to need the Hoyas - at least right now - in order to achieve a high level of success.
Will Georgetown get back into the rankings this season?
If they do it will be because their league is still strong enough, providing many opportunities for LJ Peak, Rodney Pryor, and the rest of the gang to turn around a bad start to this season. If they don’t, it’s likely that the Hoyas miss the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons.
For a further AP polling perspective, when JT3 showed up in 2004 the Hoyas had been outside of the polls for 47 straight weeks. If Georgetown doesn’t show up in a rankings this season the current unranked streak will approach 40 weeks.