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Preview: Georgetown at No. 20 Creighton

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NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Georgetown Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game 27: Georgetown Hoyas (14-12, 5-8) at No. 20 Creighton Bluejays (21-5, 8-5)

Series: Hoyas lead 6-3

Where/When: CenturyLink Center/Sunday 3:30 pm

TV: FS1

KenPom: Creighton 82-73, 79 percent

Line: Creighton -7

“Opportunities are still there,” Coach John Thompson III said in a media availability on Friday afternoon when asked about the importance of Sunday’s game in Omaha. “There’s still five opportunities. That tune hasn’t changed. Just got to win.”

While it’s true that the opportunities are still there, they are quickly disappearing as Georgetown still needs to pad its resume in an effort to avoid missing the tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time under JT3 and for the third time in four years.

Using the literal definition of opportunities the Hoyas won’t technically be out of anything until their BIG EAST Tournament exit, whenever that might be.

Much like Providence and Villanova have owned the Hoyas in this BIG EAST 2.0, Georgetown has had the upper hand against Creighton by going 6-2 since 2013. Earlier this season Georgetown had one of its better wins and performances of the season in a 71-51 dismantling of Creighton

The key to that win – other than Creighton missing Maurice Watson – is that Georgetown’s Big Three of LJ Peak, Rodney Pryor, and Jessie Govan all scored in double figures. When that happens the Hoyas are 10-1. Twice the Big Three have outscored the opposition all by themselves, including that first Creighton game.

“It’s crucial,” JT3 said about Govan’s contributions.

“When LJ and Rodney play well together we’re pretty good. When you get LJ and Rodney plus Jessie or Marcus [Derrickson], I don’t think we’ve lost too many games when we’ve had three guys play well.”

“Jessie is an asset because he can play outside and inside. He stretches the floor he opens up driving lanes for our guys that can drive and cutting alleys because he can make an outside shot. People have to respect that and guard him outside or he’s going to make easy shots.”

While JT3 has gone back and forth with Govan and Bradley Hayes this season it looks as though that option won’t be available all that much on Sunday. Hayes practiced a bit on Friday and although BJ should be good to go JT3 indicated that his minutes would likely be limited. Govan took advantage of Hayes getting hurt in the Marquette game by scoring 23 points in 29 minutes. The sophomore center made two 3-pointers after failing to hit from deep in his previous three games.

Since that loss to the Hoyas, Creighton has gone 3-2 but two of those wins are against DePaul and they’ve lost to Xavier in their lone non DePaul home game.

Marcus Foster and Justin Patton continue to carry the load for the Bluejays although the scoring can come from a number of options, particularly from deep. One of the keys to the first matchup was the Hoyas holding Creighton to just 1-of-19 shooting from deep. It may be hard or impossible to match that again but keeping them to a low number of makes will be vital.

BET Seeding: The Hoyas are still slated for that 8/9 game on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden but a sweep over Creighton would really jumble the league standings. A Georgetown victory would leave the BIG EAST with four teams at 6-8 heading down the stretch. St. John’s, Providence, and Seton Hall all currently sit at 6-8 while Marquette sits in fifth place at 7-7.

NCAA: Short of winning the BIG EAST tournament, Georgetown can only realistically afford one more regular season loss. With five games left that means the Hoyas need to go 4-1. The margin of error is razor thin and any losses before facing Villanova in the last regular season game will mean the Hoyas will have to pull off a rather large upset.

NIT or at least a .500 final record: Going 2-3 will give Georgetown a winning record heading into the BIG EAST Tournament. Most likely that means beating DePaul at home and then getting picking up another win somewhere else. It’s closer than most would want this late into the season but it looks as if Georgetown will avoid back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in over 40 years.

Reason to be cynical: Creighton hasn’t lost a Sunday home game since 2005 – a string of 28 straight games. Unlike Chick-fil-A the Bluejays flat out get it done on Sundays.

Reason to be delusional: Nothing heals the Hoyas like a week off this season. Georgetown looked great the previous two times they had this much free time in between games as they easily handled both LaSalle and Syracuse.

Prediction: Creighton 81, Georgetown 77