Series: Syracuse leads 49-43, last met in 2016
Where/When: Capital One Arena/Saturday 1230pm
KenPom: Syracuse 68-67, 53 percent
“I think everyone knows the magnitude of this game. Georgetown - Syracuse is one of the biggest rivalries in college basketball.” - Jessie Govan during Thursday morning’s media availability
The wait is finally over.
While Georgetown - Syracuse is always THE game on the Hoyas schedule, the hype, anticipation, and certainly curiosity surrounding this year’s matchup is a few notches higher than normal.
This year’s chapter to one of the greatest rivalries in college sports has to be titled ‘Patrick Ewing Returns’. The best player in Hoyas history is now on the sidelines as Ewing has guided Georgetown to an 8-0 start albeit against the nation’s weakest schedule to date.
Because of the schedule there are questions at nearly every turn for the Hoyas that most fans and analysts still can’t truly answers.
How will Ewing and the Hoyas fare in a close game? Can Jessie Govan keep up his double-double average? Is the Hoyas defense really this smothering? Can Georgetown continue to push the ball and score at this rate once league play begins? The list goes on.
After Saturday’s clash with the Orange, there will be a much better understanding as to the answers to those questions and others.
Although it seems like forever ago in college basketball years, Ewing enjoyed incredible success by going 8-3 against Syracuse as a player in the early to mid 1980’s. Only once did the Hoyas and Orange not meet three times in a season and that was back in Ewing’s freshman season. It was during Ewing’s time in college that the rivalry really took off as both John Thompson’s Hoyas and Jim Boeheim’s Orange helped shape both the BIG EAST and the emerging cable sports television industry.
Speaking of Boeheim, Syracuse’s 73-year old coach was there for the start of the BIG EAST and is now in his fifth year with the Orange in the ACC. Since switching leagues, Syracuse is just 2-6 in games against teams that are currently in the BIG EAST including and 0-2 record against the Hoyas.
Scouting Syracuse: The Orange are led by Tyus Battle and local product Franklin Howard who has made quite the jump from sophomore to junior. While much has been made about the Hoyas schedule, Saturday will mark the first road game of the season for Syracuse. The Orange went 2-1 during a tough three game stretch earlier this season against Maryland, Kansas, and Connecticut. Boeheim’s team is playing at a much slower pace than Georgetown. The Orange rebound well and limit turnovers.
Keys to a HOYAS WIN
1. Solid contributions from the Juniors - Govan needs to stay out of foul trouble and get in the neighborhood of a double-double while Marcus Derrickson and Kaleb Johnson need to score while providing leadership against the zone.
2. Jamorko Pickett needs to make an impact - The talented freshman averages over 8 points per game but too often it has been feast of famine. There have been games of double-figures while there have been two games where he failed to hit a shot from the field
3. Limit turnovers - Against a team that wants to play a slower pace, keeping the ball will be at a premium. Yes, there is a new coach with a new system and many new players but 15 turnovers per game, especially against the caliber of teams the Hoyas have faced so far isn’t going to cut it.
4. Stay close on the boards - Syracuse is one of the better rebounding teams in country. Ewing mentioned how much their size worries him. With very limited options off the bench in terms of size, it will be important for Govan and Derrickson to stay out of foul trouble. Having the guards and wings help on the glass will go a long ways towards matching the Orange in rebounding.
Streaking: As mentioned above the Hoyas have a two game winning streak against Syracuse and have won four of the last five in the series. While Ewing’s 8-3 record against Syracuse is impressive Jessie Govan has a chance to go 3-0 and he knows it.
Said Govan: “[Ewing] talks about how he used to dominate them and hopefully I can continue and I can dominate them too.
The last three game winning streak for the Hoyas over the Orange came between 2000 and 2002 when Craig Esherick was the coach.
No Polls: For the second straight season neither both Georgetown and Syracuse entered this game unranked in the AP Top 25. The only other time that has happened since the formation of the BIG EAST in 1979 was back in the 1980-81 season, the season before Ewing arrived on Georgetown’s campus.
Reason to be cynical: We’re a month into the season and this is Georgetown’s real test.
Reason to be delusional: Hoyas haven’t lost to the ACC version of Syracuse. Maybe they never will.
Prediction: Georgetown 71, Syracuse 69