As we near the middle of February and with Georgetown still in the NCAA Tournament conversation, I was able to catch up with local hoops scribe and bracket expert - Patrick Stevens.
Currently a contributor to the Washington Post - among other outlets - Stevens, as usual, has seen his fair share of Hoyas games in person this season.
On Tuesday he released his most recent bracket with the Hoyas predictably on the outside looking in with just a month to go.
The weekly bracket for @PostSports landed earlier today. The rundown of a field of 68 where the at-large board gets pretty lean with five or six spots to go: https://t.co/mJMSQwpjjk— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) February 12, 2019
Here’s what we talked about on Monday night:
So, most important question first, where are the Hoyas heading into the Seton Hall game?
I have Georgetown about the 9th to 12th team out at this point. They've got themselves into the Top 80 in the NET now and I usually look at teams like that one way or the other.
You give them a look and I would say amazingly the thing that stands out for the worst for them isn’t the non-conference schedule - which it turns out, it’s not great, but at No. 211 is not disqualifying in anyway whatsoever - it’s the losses to SMU and Loyola Marymount.
They don’t have a true elite high end win. They break the Quadrant system up into Upper Quadrant 1 and the Lower Quadrant 1 and they’ve played exactly one Upper Quadrant 1 game, which was Villanova on the road.
If they were to play out the rest of the season and everybody stayed exactly where they are right now they would have only one more Upper Quadrant 1 game and that’s at Marquette so not a lot of opportunity there to make a considerable impact.
I will say on the flip side of things they are getting much more mileage out of the victories over South Florida and Illinois than anybody would have guessed.
So they are 3-3 against Quadrant 1 and 7-7 vs Quadrant 1 plus Quadrant 2. It’s not an awful profile but it’s the sort of thing where if they go .500 [the rest of the way] that’s not going to be enough.
Ok, so how good would Hoya fans feel on Selection Sunday if Ewing and Co. were able to finish the season 5-2 and earn at least one victory in the BIG EAST Tournament?
It’s hard to put a number on those things with a month to go because there are so many variables.
If I’m them you don’t want to just go 4-3. I think you probably need to do a little bit better and frankly you need to pick off one of Villanova or Marquette to at least maybe give yourself a shot.
The thing is you look at the edge of the field. Butler is just on the inside, Seton Hall just on the inside. Providence and Creighton not too far from the cut line. There’s a lot of games and opportunities there for everybody in that league and certainly for everybody in that middle scrum to kind of create separation and hurt somebody else that’s in the mix on many, many nights. And Georgetown is no different. If they can go and win a game at Creighton and win a game at Seton Hall, those things are going to help in multiple ways because it’s going to help them and hurt somebody that’s scrambling for one of those last few spots.
How is the rest of the league looking right now?
I have five in at the moment. I have Marquette as a 3, Villanova as a 5, St. John’s as a 9 and both Butler and Seton Hall in play-in games as 11’s.
I think that there’s probably a little more wiggle room because you see certainly the Pac-12 is down this year, the Atlantic 10 is down this year. So the Big East might not be as good 3 through 7 as it’s been the last few years but it’s probably not a bad year for it to be down relative to a bunch of other leagues. As a reminder, leagues obviously don’t get bids, teams get bids.
There’s opportunity there for several teams to either solidify their standing or because there’s really not any terrible teams in the league there’s a chance to improve your lot in life every time you take the floor the rest of the way.
Is this a soft bubble or is that just something that everyone seems to say ever year?
It’s funny I feel like every year people say it’s the worst bubble. I personally try not to even use the word bubble. Teams on the edge of the field is my preferred phrase. I would say check back at the end of February and we’ll have a better sense. Every year there’s a team that gets hot and wins three of four in a row.
We’ll see if there’s some conference tournament upsets that kind of evens things out.
Last week for example I did not have Buffalo as the automatic qualifier out of the MAC but I do now so that creates an extra at-large spot for someone. Same thing for VCU taking over the top spot in the A10 for Davidson. That kind of improves the automatic qualifier field but weakens the potential at-large field.
What is your take on Georgetown almost two years into Ewing’s tenure?
You look at them and there are pieces in place that are going to get better over time and they can play the way Ewing wants to play.
James Akinjo, Mac McClung, and Josh LeBlanc are a good nucleus to build around. There are guards to build around and that’s new based on recent history. Things are trending upward.
Can they get to 9-9 [in the Big East] and split in NYC? 20 wins and an NIT berth, that’s pretty good. That’s the next step and there would be reason to believe there’s another step to be made next year. Only two of their league games have been decided by double-digits and it was a tie game at Villanova with seven minutes to play.
Again, thanks to Patrick for taking the time to talk Georgetown with me.
You should already be following him but if you aren’t, check him out at Twitter @d1scourse as he’s one of the best college basketball accounts out there, especially if you are in the DC area.