Your eleventh-seeded Georgetown Hoyas will face the sixth-seeded Villanova Wildcats in the last game of the opening round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Wednesday at 8ish from “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” The conference tournament may be a clean slate for many teams clinging to their last hopes, but +50,000 odds for GU seem generous. While a surging Villanova has won 6 of their last 8, Georgetown has lost their last three games by a total of 69 points. Nice.
The complete lack of Hoya momentum coming into Madison Square Garden is slightly overshadowed by the story of Patrick Ewing coming to New York under suspicion that it likely may be his last time as head coach of Georgetown. The Hoyas have won only two of the last 45 high-major matchups over the last two seasons.
Some folks are finally coming to the realization that Villanova could be ending Ewing’s college coaching career in addition to his time in collegiate athletics. While the 1985 championship loss still stings, Wednesday night might be a mercy blow.
To many BIG EAST fans, it was disappointing not seeing Georgetown play the last weekend, but it’s just as crushing seeing conference awards come out and the Hoyas being blanked yet again. No first team, no second team, no honorable mention. Villanova had Eric Dixon earn second-team honors, with Cam Whitmore and Mark Armstrong making the conference freshmen team, but the Hoyas had none. Oh well.
Still, the Hoyas are in the Big Apple for the BIG EAST Tournament and miracles can happen in MSG.
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The Georgetown University men’s basketball team is in New York City to take on sixth-seeded Villanova in the first round of the 2023 BIG EAST Tournament presented by Jeep. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. at Madison Square Garden. The 11th-seeded Hoyas are coming off a 99-59 loss to then-No. RV/23 Creighton on Wednesday evening in Omaha while Villanova is coming off a 71-59 loss to then-No. 14/18 UConn in the regular season finale.
FOLLOW THE HOYAS … Wednesday’s matchup can be seen live on FS1 with Tim Brando calling the play-by-play, Bill Raftery providing analysis and Kristina Pink courtside. The game will be broadcasted locally and nationally with Rich Chvotkin on the call for his 49th season. Station information will be available closer to the game and can be found on GUHoyas.com.
After the return of sophomore guard Jordan Longino to the Wildcats’ lineup on Feb. 11, Villanova won five of its last seven games. Its only two setbacks were to nationally ranked Providence and Connecticut. VU also picked up wins over two other ranked squads, Xavier and Creighton, in that span. The Wildcats hope to carry that momentum with them to New York City for what they hope will be a multi-day multi-game week.
“The confidence level is always high,” stated senior guard Justin Moore, who averaged 20.0 points per game in Nova’s final two regular season games, earning a place on the final BIG EAST weekly Honor Roll Monday. “We know we’re capable of doing great things if we just take it one game at a time. We’ve got to get better each day.”
Still, winning four games in four days is difficult, even with a full lineup. The Big East Tournament rarely goes to chalk. You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time the top two seeds met for the conference title.
“It’s a battle every game, all the way to the end, a full 40 minutes getting after it,” Moore said. “You have to be mentally tough and physically tough. You have to bring it and not back down.”
However, it has been done, most recently by Georgetown. The Hoyas won four games in 2021 to win the tournament title and earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. That run included a 72-71 victory over the Wildcats in the quarterfinals. UConn won five games in five days in 2011, en route to the Big East Tournament championship and, ultimately, the NCAA title. So it can be done.
“Everyone has a clean slate now,” Neptune said. “We’re all focused on one game and that’s the same thing with everyone else. You have to lock in on that game and that’s it. There’s nothing else to think about.”