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Preview: No. 1 Villanova at Georgetown

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Game 18: No. 1 Villanova Wildcats (16-1, 4-1) at Georgetown Hoyas (12-5, 2-4)

Series: Hoyas lead 43-37

Where/When: Capital One Arena/Wednesday 630pm


Line: Villanova -14, o/u 158

KenPom: Villanova 85-71, 90 percent

Well after going 16 games before playing their first ranked opponent of the season against then-No. 13 Seton Hall last Saturday, the Hoyas welcome in the top ranked team in the country to Capital One Arena on Wednesday night.

Even with Georgetown in a clear rebuilding mode in coach Patrick Ewing’s first season in charge while rivals Villanova are once again competing for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament under Jay Wright, there’s something special about playing the No. 1 team.

Georgetown has played nearly 2,700 games and this will be just the 22nd time that the Hoyas take on the top ranked team in the country. Yes, some of those games came before the AP starting making a weekly poll but you get the drift.

Simply put, this just doesn’t happen all that often.

Villanova will be the 15th different No. 1 team that Georgetown has faced with the Hoyas posting a 3-18 all-time mark entering Wednesday night’s contest.

The Hoyas last hosted the No. 1 team back in 2006 when Duke came to town in the middle of conference season. Shall we continue to go back down Memory Lane? Sure, why not?

The Hoyas raced out to a big lead that day and held off to beat the JJ Redick led Blue Devils, 87-84. It was a win that propelled the program back in the national spotlight as the Hoyas went on to make seven of the next eight NCAA Tournaments, mainly as a one of the top ranked seeds. Of course to be fair that team had lost two of three coming into the Duke game with the lone victory being an uninspiring 50-47 home win over lowly South Florida. In other words, expectations weren’t particularly high at the time.

So, this naturally begs the question, can lighting strike twice?

Eh, probably not.

Looking back at that Georgetown team there was clear NBA talent on the roster and as a whole they were a battle tested group under a coach who was midway through his second season on the Hilltop. This current crop of Hoyas doesn’t have any NBA locks and more importantly lacks the necessary guard play to compete with one of the most efficient teams in the country.

For Georgetown the formula to stay competitive remains the same. Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson both need to perform at a high level while as a team the Hoyas have to limit turnovers. Jonathan Mulmore did a good job of limiting turnovers last time out against Seton Hall but the Hoyas need to get smart, steady play from Jagan Mosely and Jamorko Pickett as both have been far too turnover prone of late.

Villanova has won six straight against Georgetown and eight of the nine meetings since the new BIG EAST began play in the 2013-14 season. In what seems to be a series of runs between the two schools, Georgetown had taken eight of the previous 10 meetings.

Scouting Villanova: The Wildcats have the most efficient offense in the country so it should be no surprise that they are also one of the most balance teams around. Jalen Brunson leads five Wildcats averaging double-figures at 18.8 points per game. All five of those players - including big man Omari Spellman - shoot better than 40 percent from deep. Villanova played one of its worst games this past weekend in beating St. John’s, 78-71. The Wildcats gave up 37 points to Shamorie Ponds and had one of the worst shooting nights from their starters. Donte DiVincenzo gave Villanova a big boost off the bench by going 7 for 11 for 25 points.

Top Ranked Trivia: Villanova will be the third BIG EAST school ranked No. 1 to face the Hoyas joining both St. John’s and Connecticut. The Hoyas are 1-4 when facing conference teams ranked in the top spot with the lone win coming against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden in 1985 with Ewing on the court...Georgetown did play St. John’s and DePaul as the No. 1 team before they were members of the BIG EAST...Georgetown is 1-5 against top ranked teams at home.

Prediction: Villanova 84, Georgetown 68