Game 32: BIG EAST Quarterfinal – No. 6 Georgetown Hoyas (19-12) vs No. 3 Seton Hall Pirates (18-12)
When: Thursday, 930pm
Where: Madison Square Garden
Series: Hoyas lead 59-48, schools split this season series with both winning at home
Radio: Team 980 (Rich Chvotkin)
NET Ranking: Seton Hall 62, Georgetown 77
KenPom Ranking: Seton Hall 59, Georgetown 87
KenPom Projection: Seton Hall 78, Georgetown 75 (60 percent)
Line: Seton Hall – 2.5, o/u 152
“Naturally we take it one game at a time but our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament,” coach Patrick Ewing said when asked about his team’s postseason situation heading into the BIG EAST Tournament.
“We’ve had two significant wins so that helps our process. We have 19 wins and if we win on Thursday that gives us 20 wins [which] makes it a lot more appealing so you never know.”
Well you do never know, that much is true. With the NCAA Selection Committee using a new system to pick teams this year – the NET – we’ve yet to see it spit back the data.
What we do know is that winning the BIG EAST Tournament as a program for the first time since 2007 would have the Hoyas Dancing. Most would agree that two wins in New York would cause some anxious moments on Selection Sunday while watching the CBS broadcast.
”I don’t feel like it’s pressure,” Josh LeBlanc said about the postseason talk surrounding Georgetown’s trip to NYC. “I just feel like it’s motivation, because we’re all focused. We all know what we want out of this. So I don’t think it’s no added pressure.”
But it all starts with tonight’s opponent and that’s probably the hottest team in the league in Seton Hall. The Pirates were left for dead at 7-9 in the conference after falling to the Hoyas on Georgetown’s Senior Night nearly two weeks ago but much has changed. Since then Kevin Willard’s team has victories over the top two teams in the league in Marquette and Villanova and seems to be lock for a fourth straight tournament.
Willard’s top guy – Myles Powell – has been virtually unstoppable against the Hoyas in going for at least 30 in each meeting.
Powell earned a spot, like Jessie Govan, on the BIG EAST First Team and is probably playing better than Marquette’s Markus Howard who came home with the Player of the Year Award.
It’s no secret that Georgetown must try and slow down Powell in order to get a second win over the Pirates this season.
”Well you know he’s a good player, we got to just stay on him and throw different bodies at him and do our best to contain him,” Mac McClung said on Monday.
In a season where Georgetown has made so many positive strides there’s one more left to accomplish and that’s to make some hay in the conference tournament for the first time in quite some time. Without even playing the Hoyas are off to a good start having avoided playing on Wednesday for the first time since 2015.
“You know, we’re a real talented team so we know we’re going to score the ball, but we just want to focus on our defense and our energy,” Akinjo said about what the Hoyas need to do to carry momentum from the Marquette win into the BET.
The Hoyas trio of All-Freshman players in Akinjo, McClung, and LeBlanc along with everyone else will get another shot at snapping Georgetown’s long postseason drought dating back to 2010.
Georgetown last won consecutive games in a postseason tournament of any kind in 2010 when they took three straight before falling to West Virginia in the BET Final. Since then Georgetown hasn’t won back-to-back games in 14 straight tournaments – (8 BET, 5 NCAA, and 1 NIT). Even if an NCAA Tournament doesn’t follow, this would be another nice streak to snap heading into next season.
3: This will be the third time that the Hoyas are the 6 seed at the BET. In both 1991 and 1994 Georgetown finished as the runner-up.
4-2: This is Georgetown’s record as the six seed.
4-4: Georgetown has a .500 mark against Seton Hall in the BET with the last meeting coming in 2005.
9-2: The Hoyas have an impressive record against 3 seeds.
”It was one of my goals for this senior season, so it feels good to be recognized by the other coaches,” Govan said about making the First Team. “They see how productive I am, and things like that. And to have the opinion that I’m one of the best players in the Big East is definitely an honor, with all of the great names that have been on that list before, and at Georgetown, you know, to be the most recent one on that, is definitely an honor.”
Prediction: Georgetown 84, Seton Hall 77 – The Hoyas move on to the semis for just the second time since conference realignment with a shot at either Marquette or St. John’s. Hoyas split the season series with both.