Game 28: DePaul Blue Demons (13-12, 5-9) at Georgetown Hoyas (16-11, 6-8)
When: Wednesday, 7pm
Where: Capital One Arena
Series: Hoyas lead 30-9, teams split the season series in 2017-18
TV: CBS Sports Net (Carter Blackburn & Pete Gillen)
Radio: 1450 (Rich Chvotkin)
NET Ranking: Georgetown 73, DePaul 108
KenPom Ranking: Georgetown 81, DePaul 116
KenPom Projection: Georgetown 83, DePaul 76 (71 percent)
Line: Georgetown – 5.5, o/u 159
In what seems like a scheduling oddity, we’re two days from March and somehow tonight is just the first meeting between Georgetown and DePaul. The two schools turn around and close out their season series next week in what has become a bottom of the barrel rivalry since conference realignment.
Losers of three of their last four games, Georgetown’s NCAA Tournament hopes are currently on life support in what seems to be a down year for the BIG EAST. The last two years the league has sent seven and six teams to the tournament respectively while most current projections have just four schools earning bids this season.
But let’s hold off on those March Madness dreams for right now and instead focus on some realistic goals still facing the Hoyas with just four regular season games remaining.
With the conference all jammed up from the middle right down to the bottom (actually, is there a bottom?), Georgetown can’t afford a third straight home loss to DePaul if they want to have any shot at avoiding the opening round BET Wednesday night double-header of dread at Madison Square Garden.
After Providence’s overtime win at Butler on Tuesday, just two losses separate 4th through 10th place. The top six teams place directly into the BET quarterfinals, something Georgetown has done just once in the past five seasons. It’s likely that more than a few tiebreaking scenarios will come into play when it’s all said and done on the final day of the BIG EAST regular season on March 9th.
Two other goals remain within arm’s length of the Hoyas and that’s finishing with a winning record and making the postseason (read: NIT) for the first time since 2015. Georgetown needs only one more victory to clinch a winning record and probably two or three more wins (BET included) to send Jessie Govan and Kaleb Johnson to the postseason before they leave Georgetown. (Trey Mourning was on the Hoyas last NCAA Tournament squad and Greg Malinowski was on an NIT team his freshman year at William & Mary.)
If anything, the last three games have proven that there is little to no momentum gained from one outing to the next as sandwiched in between two dreadful defensive no-shows on the road came Georgetown’s best win in the coach Patrick Ewing era – a practically wire-to-wire win over then-No. 17 Villanova.
In their most recent loss, Georgetown’s bench outscored the starters by a decent margin with Jahvon Blair and Malinowski coming up big in their reserve roles. None of the starters managed double-figures. Jamorko Pickett was held scoreless for the fourth time this season while Govan led the way for the first teamers with nine points. Mac McClung managed six points while James Akinjo had seven points and eight assists.
In what was as non-competitive as a series can get with Georgetown winning the first 16 regular season conference meetings against DePaul, the teams have split the last two seasons series with the Blue Demons taking both games in DC by the slimmest of margins - a combined three points. DePaul has yet to win three consecutive road conference games over the same school since joining the BIG EAST for the 2005-06 season.
Despite being on their second 3-game slide in conference play, DePaul has already won more BIG EAST games since 2015 and two more wins in their final four games would give the school its second best showing ever in the league. (DePaul went 9-7 in 2007. Wow, that was a great year for everyone huh?)
Max Strus leads four in double figures with 17.3 points per game while Paul Reed (11.2 ppg) leads DePaul with eight rebounds per game. Transfer Femi Olujobi – formerly of Oakland and more recently North Carolina A&T - adds 13.4 ppg and 5.1 rpg. Olujobi went for 18 points and eight rebounds in a loss to the Hoyas last season as an Aggie. In what will surely be a point of emphasis against a Georgetown team that just gave up 14 3-pointers at Creighton – man of which were wide open, DePaul’s main weapons from deep are Eli Cain, Jalen Coleman-Lands, and Strus who all put up over four attempts per outing.
DePaul is one of the better offensive rebounding teams and 3-point shooting teams in the conference.
Georgetown 92, DePaul 88 – The Hoyas probably won’t make the NCAA Tournament but Georgetown fans will get to hear the CBS theme music for the next two games starting with the Blue Demons and ending with Seton Hall on Saturday night.