Game 31: Georgetown Hoyas (18-11, 8-8) at No. 16 Marquette Golden Eagles (14-13, 6-10)
When: Saturday, 230pm
Where: Fiserv Forum
Series: Marquette leads 14-12, Golden Eagles won first meeting this season 74-71 on Jan 15
TV: FOX (Tim Brando & Stephen Bardo)
Radio: Team 980, SiriusXM channel 309/981 (Rich Chvotkin)
NET Ranking: Marquette 28, Georgetown 80
KenPom Ranking: Marquette 28, Georgetown 91
KenPom Projection: Marquette 82, Georgetown 71 (85 percent)
Line: Marquette – 10, o/u 153.5
We’ve come to the final regular season game for a Georgetown squad that at times has shown great promise but has also served up enough head scratching performances to leave one wondering what they were watching. Perhaps nothing can illustrate this point better than what has happened over the last seven days.
Just last weekend coach Patrick Ewing said that he was the proudest he had been in his nearly two seasons in charge of the Hoyas as Georgetown came back to defeat Seton Hall in double-overtime on Senior Night. He later went on to declare that the team had finally taken on his personality.
In keeping with the up-and-down nature of the season, in their very next game the Hoyas suffered one of their worst regular season losses since the creation of the BIG EAST in 1979. Trailing by as many as 38 with just under three minutes to go, the Hoyas eventual 32-point loss at DePaul matched last season’s defeat to Villanova in terms of largest margin of defeat in conference play.
The big difference from last year’s blowout loss is that those Wildcats were ranked No. 1, they were littered with NBA talent, and they were expected to do big things in the NCAA Tournament – which they did by winning a second title in three seasons. This year’s DePaul team – while improved from recent seasons - is just above .500 and not seen as a postseason threat to play beyond the BIG EAST Tournament. It was also just the second time that Georgetown had ever given up over 100 points in regulation in conference play.
All of this leads me to admit that I’m not really sure what we will see from Georgetown in their season finale. It is Spring Break and the Hoyas have stayed in the Midwest so maybe a little time away from home will help everyone come together.
So let’s talk a little bit about Marquette for a second.
First things first is that this is probably the best time of the season to be playing Marquette as they’ve lost a season-high three straight. Until recently it was looking like Marquette was going to win its first outright league title but the best the Golden Eagles can do now is share it with a win over Georgetown combined with a Villanova loss at Seton Hall.
Little known fact is that Georgetown is the only team to hold Markus Howard scoreless this season. There’s of course an asterisk by that achievement as Howard – who leads the league with 25 ppg – only played three minutes as Marquette still got the win behind a big night from Sam Hauser.
Georgetown is just 2-9 against Marquette on the road in league play but the Golden Eagles have moved buildings, perhaps leaving that home court magic at the Bradley Center. This will be the Hoyas first visit to Fiserv Forum.
While there weren’t many shining starts in the 101-69 loss to the Blue Demons there are some things to focus on in the last game. Although it wasn’t a 32-point effect, the status of Kaleb Johnson is something that could help Georgetown. With Johnson out Ewing once again gave Grayson Carter some run for the second straight game. After Jessie Govan finished with just six points and three rebounds, freshman Josh LeBlanc is sneaking up on him for the team lead in rebounds. Just two boards separate the two starters.
With the NCAA Tournament prospects pretty much cold minus an improbable run to the BIG EAST final, there are plenty of things for the Hoyas to still play for. Let’s talk about them here.
AVOID A FOUR PEAT
First up is avoiding a losing record in the league for a fourth straight season. Georgetown has never had four straight losing seasons in the 40-year history of the conference. In fact only one other time (98-00) did the Hoyas put up three straight losing campaigns. With a win at Marquette the Hoyas would finish 9-9 which leads me to my next topic.
SHOWING UP THURSDAY
With too many conference tiebreaker scenarios to get into - a point best illustrated by the fact that the Hoyas can still finish anywhere between 3rd and 9th, Georgetown can avoid a fourth straight season of playing in the first round Wednesday night double header with a win over Marquette. This would be a first for Jessie Govan and Kaleb Johnson and it’s a goal that the senior center has spoken about at times this season.
The Hoyas can also back in to a spot in the quarterfinals with a loss. In this scenario Georgetown would need Villanova to beat Seton Hall AND Creighton to somehow contain Max Strus and beat DePaul.
Now we start to really get into unlikely territory but we might as well talk about it since literally anything can happen this season.
Here’s what has to happen:
Georgetown win over Marquette, Xavier beats St. John’s, Villanova beats Seton Hall, AND DePaul beats Creighton. So yeah, just that.
Georgetown looks to be a good bet to make the NIT at this moment but a loss to Marquette coupled with a first round loss at the BET would put the Hoyas at 18-14 and possibly sweating out some results in one-bid conferences. Just tonight Campbell earned a bid to the NIT after losing in the Big South semis meaning there is one loss spot in the NIT field.
In the five seasons since realignment only four teams total from the BIG EAST have been invited to the NIT. Now a lot of that has to do with the high amount of teams making the NCAA Tournament but some has to do with how the NIT now selects teams. For reference in 2016 Marquette (20-13, 8-10) didn’t make the NIT. The Hoyas probably need another win to feel good about breaking into the postseason for the first time since 2015.
Prediction: Marquette 82, Georgetown 78