Georgetown will be included, for the third straight year, in the year for the collegiate basketball championship, NCAA sources said today. Boston College (21-6) and Big East tournament champion Syracuse (18-11) also are expected to get bids to the 48-team NCAA tournament.
The NCAA selection committee met today in Shawnee mission, Kan., and will make its announcement on bids Sunday. Georgetown Coach John Thompson is a longtime friend of David Gavitt, the Big East commissioner, who is on the tournament committee; that would not hurt the chances of the Hoyas, possessors of a 20-11 record.
Gravitt, the former Providence and U.S. Olympic team coach, has considerable influence on the 11-member committee. Gravitt reportedly assured BC officials their team would receive a bid, even after the Eagles were upset in the Big East first round by last-place Providence.
Gavitt was not available to comment today.
When Thompson was asked after his teams 67-53 loss to Syracuse late Friday night if he expected an NCAA bid, he smiled broadly and replied "Absolutely."
It looked for a while as if the Hoyas would advance to today's final, but the team lost its concentration in the last six minutes and watched helplessly as Syracuse sank nine of 11 free throws in the last three minutes to salt away the game.
Sleepy Floyd, who scored 26 points, tied the game twice on 22-foot jump shots and gave the Hoyas a brief 44-42 lead midway through the second half. The Hoyas had a chance to go up by four, but Eric Smith, an 81 percent foul shooter, missed a pair of free throws.
They had a chance to tie the contest at 50, but Tony Bruin blocked Gene Smith's layup, stole the ball and passed downcourt to forward Leo Rautins for a layup. Rautins scored 18 for the night.
The 17,101 fans, not a few on the rowdy side, in the Orangemen's Carrier DemiDome seemed to push the host team to its competitive best, especially at the outset when Syracuse raced to a 20-11 lead.
Floyd had said before the game that the winning team would be the one that played better during the first five minutes and the last seven. He accurately assumed the middle 28 would be standoff. He was right.
The Orangemen made their first seven shots and the team hit 69 percent for the game, even without outside sniper Marty Headd, who broke his wrist in practice Monday. "That's the best basketball we can play," Orange Coach Jim Boeheim said.
He and Thompson got into a heated shouting match during the first half and had to be separated by the officials, before working out their differences at halftime.
The Syracuse victory -- its second straight over the Hoyas, both at home -- will fuel the fierce rivalry that has made games between these two the Big East version of the Redskins and Cowboys.
Thompson blasted the Orangemen for making negative remarks about his team to reporters. "Athletics is athletics," he said, "but people say some things they shouldn't. It wasn't necessary for them (Headd) to call my kids a bunch of bums in one of the Washington papers."
Thompson told a story about a friend he grew up with in the projects who always got into fights, with varying success -- "but he always fought real good in his own backyard."