Game 22: Georgetown Hoyas (11-10, 2-6) at No. 11 Butler Bulldogs (18-3, 7-2)
Series: Hoyas lead 5-4
Where/When: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Saturday 8pm
TV: CBS Sports Network
KenPom: Butler 76-65, 85 percent
Line: Butler -9
“I think clearly we’re playing one of the hottest teams in the league right now.” - Butler coach Chris Holtmann on facing an 11-10 Georgetown team
Georgetown ends its toughest three game stretch since 2009 with a visit to Butler’s famed Hinkle Fieldhouse. After losing to then-No. 22 Xavier and beating No. 16 Creighton, Butler is the last of three straight ranked foes to hit the Hoyas schedule. Now in his 13th season, this is just the third time that John Thompson III’s Hoyas have had such a brutal stretch. In the previous two times of facing three straight ranked foes under JT3 –both during the 2008-09 season – the Hoyas went 1-2.
As JT3 noted on a Thursday league conference call, this current three game streak is both good and bad with his squad in search of quality wins.
“That’s the burden and the beauty of the league,” said JT3.
“There’s plenty of opportunity in front of us and we have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
The good news for Georgetown is that LJ Peak snapped out of a shooting slump in the win over Creighton while Jonathan Mulmore proved that he deserves another start even though JT3 is still tinkering with lineups.
When asked if he was shuffling lineups for the opponent or to reward players that have stepped up in practice. JT3 had this to say.
“It’s matchups and it’s just trying to find a group. We’re constantly shifting trying to figure out which group will play well together.”
While it’s great that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win it’s a bit worrisome that after 21 games a group hasn’t emerged. Will Hayes continue to start and then play sparingly? I think so.
One thing that did happen against Creighton is that the bench was shrunk as both Kaleb Johnson and Tre Campbell saw their minutes cut. It was a bit weird that Campbell didn’t get any run at the end of the blowout so it’s possible he’s just hurt again.
Many streaks will come to an end if Georgetown pulls off a second straight upset. Let’s quickly go over them:
Georgetown has lost eight straight BIG EAST road games dating back to last January. The last Georgetown win on the road in the league was that shocker over then-No. 5 Xavier. When I asked JT3 about the fact that his team hadn’t won on the road in the league in so long he said it wasn’t a stat he would be telling his team.
Butler is undefeated at home this season, winning all 11 games at Hinkle so far. The Bulldogs have won 14 straight going back to last season.
Georgetown has gone 23 straight BIG EAST games without registering consecutive wins. Can you guess the last two teams Georgetown beat in back-to-back league games? Of course you can, it was DePaul and St. John’s last season.
Georgetown hasn’t won consecutive games against ranked opponents going back to the 2012-13 season when they beat then-No. 24 Notre Dame on the road and then came home to knock off then-No. 5 Louisville in large part to that ridiculous backwards tip in by Aaron Bowen. What a time.
Now that we are nearing the end of the season let’s take a look at postseason scenarios for your 11-10, 2-6 Georgetown Hoyas.
NCAA: Yes, there is still a path that doesn’t require winning the conference tournament’s automatic bid. The Hoyas would need to go 8-2 the rest of the way. Clearly it’s not going to be easy to accomplish this for a team right around even after 21 games but it is easy to figure out how it would have to happen. With four games left against ranked teams the Hoyas would need to go 2-2 and then pick up six wins over the unranked teams. Not that beating four ranked teams isn’t difficult enough on its own but three of the games are on the road and the home game is against the defending National Champs. The math will still work with a loss to Butler but the dream will be on life support.
NIT/.500: Winning at Butler isn’t a must for this criteria although getting this victory would give the Hoyas some breathing room. The most likely path includes two wins over DePaul, another win over St. John’s, and then winning two out of three from Marquette and the Seton Hall series. The NIT has become more selective in recent years but a Georgetown team at .500 and a game over .500 has been included in the past.
Reason to be cynical: Butler has won three straight over Georgetown and the Hoyas haven’t won a road game in the league in literally over a year.
Reason to be delusional: Hoyas are 2-1 at Finkle and they were only one final rebound away from beating Butler not too long ago.
Prediction: This is going to be close but….Butler 68, Hoyas 65 in regulation.