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EXPECTATIONS: Can the Hoyas Make Some Noise in the BIG EAST Tournament?

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Why the hell not? This year feels different, because it is different.

Big East Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Media folks are saying that the Georgetown Hoyas have a decent path ahead of them in the BIG EAST Tournament. However, without a first-round win in years, the first step could still make this tournament iteration as steep an uphill climb as any previous year.

There is plenty to be optimistic about this season with the Hoyas winning 6 of the last 10 games and really only looking bad against top teams of Villanova, Creighton, and UConn. Marquette should be worried based on those games since the covid-pause because of how Georgetown has been playing. It’s not just the fans who are starting to notice that, this year, GU’s best wins are built on something more than streaks of lucky shooting.

Tempering expectations, in all likelihood, the 8th-seed Hoyas will lose a game at some point this week due to (a) a slow start or (b) being on the wrong side of a run down the stretch. I’m sorry to be so blunt but the optimism was too high on Saturday.

Objectively, winning streaks with Head Coach Patrick Ewing appear to be capped at two games right now until proven otherwise. If we are setting expectations, perhaps the best case scenario for this Georgetown team is a pair of nice wins and maybe a close loss after a nip-tuck battle with solid defense and few sloppy turnovers.

And maybe we all need to hope for that. This off-season unfortunately will be characterized by the end of the season results—especially coming from the many anti-Ewing critics. The solid February growth could be quickly forgotten with another first-round exit based on a 0-12 game start or a 0-16 scoreless finish. If Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas lose in devastating, self-implosive fashion one more year, there will be a chorus of boos—perhaps joined by this blog contributor.

For instance, last year still has a bad taste in my mouth. The loss to St. John’s with a 6-minute, 0-20 point run was awful. It made the ‘Hoya Sadness’ round of 32 bracket and narrowly lost to the 2012 Cincinnati game. Even among more than a dozen of last season’s points of drama, injuries, and overcoming adversity, the final game’s disappointment unavoidably sticks out as a huge let down. Losing their last six games, that depleted Hoyas teams was overachieving for parts of the season and time and energy just ran out.

But I won’t be happy setting the bar that low this year, and I don’t think most Hoyas fans will be either. It’s tourney time and Georgetown sure as shit has a chance to get to the championship game with just three wins against beatable teams.

Getting the Hoyas past the first round might be the hardest part. The top-half of the bracket just might be easier than the bottom with healthy Creighton and streaking UConn.

Villanova has never been more vulnerable since the unfortunate injury to Colin Gillespie. Hoyas match-up well with Seton Hall and St. John’s, splitting the season 1-1 with each team. Plus, tt’s not clear that either the Pirates or the Johnnies would have a Friday-night NYC crowd to urge them on this year. So maybe there’s a chance!

If it feels like there’s more optimism from the outside looking in towards Georgetown this year, it’s not unwarranted. The difference this season for Ewing and the Hoyas might be an improved defense (finally).

For instance, Busting Brackets predicts Georgetown to take the first game against Marquette saying:

... the Hoyas have proved victorious in six of their last 10 games and have only lost to the conference’s elite. Patrick Ewing’s squad has not had a great season, but they have made efficiency for opposing offenses difficult. The Hoyas have the physicality to compete in this one.

Physicality seems to have a big greenlight in the conference this year and Georgetown has a chance to reclaim its beastly domain at MSG. Defensively, Ewing and the Hoyas need to continue to mix up the looks, apply pressure at points during the game, adjust to the many screen attacks, and consistently rebound as well as we all know they can.

The recent winning offensive formula appears to be scoring led by Jahvon Blair in the first half and Chudier Bile in the second. Patrick Ewing may have to get out of his own way if Blair is to lead the offense to a quicker start than what fans saw on Saturday. Jamorko Pickett and Qudus Wahab need to get close to double-doubles. Dante Harris needs to cut down turnovers like we’ve seen him do when he focuses. Everyone playing at a higher level is not a pipedream when we’ve seen it done for multiple games over the last month.

This year, rather than saying “Georgetown needs to play like they did for that first half against XYZ,” fans can say “Georgetown needs to play like they did against Providence, Creighton, Butler, Seton Hall, DePaul, and Xavier a few weeks ago.”

There’s a huge difference between hoping for a run based on one hot-shooting night and being able to point to successful late-game defensive stands against a handful of bubble-worthy opponents. Frankly, it feels good.

Put another way, last week I was asking on Twitter about what “+20000” odds would pay out and yesterday morning I finally signed up for MGM and wagered a small sum on +8000 odds. I have very little knowledge about gambling, but if the odds are lowering to +6000, it seems like Vegas is taking a look at Georgetown and giving them a bit of a shot.

Something to monitor heading into Wednesday afternoon.

HOYA SAXA