The wait is almost as over as Georgetown will tip-off the season against Dartmouth at Capital One Arena in less than three weeks. Last week we got a step closer with the release of the first Associated Press Top 25 Poll of the 2021-22 season.
As expected, your defending BIG EAST Champion Hoyas were nowhere to be found as once again Patrick Ewing will try and coach up a roster filled with a ton of new faces.
The Hoyas have now missed out on 115 consecutive AP polls, last appearing in the final poll of the 2014-15 season. This poor run of form began under former coach John Thompson III (2 seasons – 38 polls) and now includes all 77 polls during Ewing’s time (4+ seasons) in charge of the Hoyas.
It’s by far the longest streak since the Thompson Era of Hoyas Hoops began in 1972.
It took the late Hall of Famer John Thompson Jr - who took over a program that had been ranked just once in school history and was coming off a 3-23 season - 93 polls to crack what was at the time the AP Top 20. Before this current drought, two Georgetown streaks had reached 78 weeks and both came during coaching changes (Thompson Jr to Craig Esherick and then Esherick to Thompson III).
Preseason No. 23 St. Bonaventure became the 91st different school – across 14 conferences - to spend at least one week ranked since Georgetown occupied the No. 22 spot in the final poll of the 2015 season. The Bonnies snapped a 50-year drought spanning 909 polls!
I feel very confident that the Hoyas will get back in much sooner than that…but when?
Georgetown, which I mentioned earlier, is once again a team that will probably take some time to gel given all the new pieces. The Hoyas – picked 10th out of 11 teams in the Big East Coaches Poll - must replace their top four scorers from last season with the departures of three seniors and one transfer. Dante Harris and Donald Carey return having started most of last season and will be joined by what most think is Ewing’s best recruiting class highlighted by 5-star Aminu Mohammed and legacy Ryan Mutombo.
Ewing has put together a solid but not great non-conference schedule so it will take even a few weeks of perfect play to get noticed by the voters that determine the rankings. None of the Hoyas non-conference opponents made the preseason rankings although San Diego State and Syracuse were in the ‘others receiving votes’ portion. USC – a possible opponent out in the Wooden Legacy - is also in that category. There are a lot of moving parts but my best guess is that a 9-0 start would be needed to get them back in the poll the week of December 13th.
The Hoyas are, however, in a Top 10 when it comes to the polls. It’s just one that they’d rather avoid.
Georgetown’s unranked streak of 115 weeks is the nation’s ninth-longest current run of futility among schools in what I’ll call – for lack of a better term – the Power 6. This is just the FBS driven Power 5 plus the BIG EAST.
Here are longest current ranking droughts in the Power 6:
1. Oregon State (582 weeks, 13/12/90)
2. DePaul (399, 11/20/2000)
3T. Stanford (250, 3/17/2008)
3T. Washington State (250, 3/17/2008)
5. Boston College (241, 1/5/2009)
6. Georgia Tech (217, 2/8/2010)
7. Wake Forest (216, 2/15/2010)
8. Georgia (202, 1/10/2011)
9. GEORGETOWN (115, 3/16/2015)
First thing that stands out to me about the above list is that there are three defending conference tournament champs in Oregon State, Georgia Tech and Georgetown. This probably really drives home how odd the 2020-21 season was with covid related issues in that teams came from out of nowhere to win major conference tournaments. One such occurrence during a given season would be rare enough but it happened three times last March. The Beavers actually proved that their run wasn’t fluky by making it all the way to the Elite Eight. Georgia Tech almost ended their streak after winning the ACC Tournament but the unlucky Yellow Jackets could only climb so high as to be the first team in the ‘others receiving votes’ section. The Hoyas received exactly one vote in the final poll.
Since I’ve already taken so much time looking this stuff up I figured what’s one more rabbit hole and I checked out the basketball budgets for these nine schools that have been out of the rankings for years. I used data from a Three Man Weave article in April 2020.
As I expected, Georgetown had by far the largest budget coming in just outside the Top 10 at No. 12 with $13.5M.
While all of the other schools were in the Top 100 but only Wake Forest checked into the Top 50 at No. 50 with a budget of $8.8M.
Here are the rest in order: No. 63 Georgia (7.8) No. 76 Stanford (7.1), No. 77 Georgia Tech (7.1), No. 79 Boston College (6.9), No. 80 DePaul (6.8), No. 83 Oregon State (6.2) and No. 92 Washington State (5.5). Georgetown’s struggles stick out like a sore thumb within this group. Simply put, Georgetown should not be on any lists with those programs given basketball history, brand, and budget.
As far as figuring out which team from this group is best setup to enter the rankings first, there aren’t any clear cut choices as none of the teams received any votes in the preseason poll. In checking out KenPom, five of the teams are in the Top 100 – Georgia Tech (54), Washington State (63), Stanford (68), Oregon State (73) and the Hoyas (76). Basically, there doesn’t seem to be a quick fix for anyone in this group. My advice? Check back in December to see if anyone has caught lightning in a bottle.
Another thing that sticks out is that you just never want to be on a list with DePaul. The Blue Demons – once a great program – have been asleep at the wheel for far too long.
Before I get to a couple of notes below, I just want to say that it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that Georgetown was on the other end of the spectrum with the polls. (I completely understand that the time period I’m about to mention definitely makes me old.)
From 2006 to 2013, Georgetown was 5th in poll appearances. That’s fifth in the country, not just the BIG EAST. The Hoyas appeared in 116 rankings during that period, good for 75 % of all polls. The only four schools with more appearances were Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and North Carolina. Now that’s a list of schools that you want to be associated with when it comes to men’s basketball. I’ll try and say something here in one sentence rather than write 10,000 words on it: For me, the main theme from that period was successful local recruiting. OK. We can talk more about that later but in the meantime please checkout the notes below.
While it’s true that being ranked isn’t the be-all, end-all it does predict a certain level of success over the course of the season. Since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1990, Georgetown has earned just one NCAA at-large bid in a season without appearing in a Top 25 poll. Thompson Jr guided the Hoyas to a 10-seed in the 1997 NCAA Tournament despite spending the entire season unranked. It was his final NCAA tournament appearance in his second to last full season.
Not being ranked in the preseason poll doesn’t necessarily doom a team, particularly the Hoyas. Georgetown’s last four NCAA Tournament appearances have come in season’s where they weren’t ranked to start things off (2012, 13, 15 and 21). The last time Georgetown appeared in a preseason Top 25 poll was back in October 28, 2010. To put into perspective just how long ago that was, it was the senior season for our favorite Dawg Talk duo of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman.
Do you want to guess Georgetown’s starting five the last time they were ranked? Ok, I’ll give you a minute….
Alright, time’s up.
If you remembered that JT3 rolled out a line-up of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Jabril Trawick, LJ Peak, Isaac Copeland and Joshua Smith against Utah in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament take a bow. Despite an early lead double-digit lead the Hoyas fell to Utes in what was JT3’s last NCAA Tourney game in charge of the Hoyas. Looking back that was a pretty good Utah team with three players still active in the NBA. No one on that Georgetown’s roster has logged a minute in the league.
The Associated Press began ranking teams in 1949 and despite making it into the polls for just one week before Thompson Jr arrived in 1972, the Hoyas have been – until recently – a mainstay.
So, from 1949 to 2015, Georgetown was 11th all-time in poll appearances with 397. Six years later and still stuck on that same total, the Hoyas have been passed by a few teams. The Hoyas are now ranked 17th all-time, having been leapfrogged by Michigan State, Cincinnati, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio State and Villanova.
Iowa is the next closest team to passing Georgetown, sitting at 382 appearances.
LIMITED TOP GAMES
Right now, the Hoyas only have four games scheduled against teams ranked in the Top 25. I know that will likely change but that’s the story at the moment. While the conference has been solid in this 2.0 version, remember that before Georgetown’s crazy run at MSG the league was only going to get three teams into the Big Dance for a second consecutive tournament.
Villanova starts this season at No. 4 while Connecticut checks in at No. 24. The Wildcats have the nation’s second-longest current streak in the AP poll at 41 weeks and counting behind only Gonzaga (96)….Creighton had the nation’s sixth-longest current streak snapped at 24 weeks when the preseason poll was released. The Bluejays failed to receive a vote in the preseason poll….Both Xavier and St. John’s found themselves in the ‘other’s receiving votes’ section…If last season was any indicator, there might not be many chances for Georgetown to get a shot at knocking off ranked teams. Last season just four BIG EAST schools spent time in the polls (Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, and UConn)…