Immediately following Georgetown's closest game of the season -- an 82-80 overtime victory over Boston College Saturday -- the losing coach, Gary Williams, said, "It's hard to imagine the pressure they must be under, being No. 1 and having every team coming in fired up and trying to play its best game of the year."
It will get tougher for the top-ranked and undefeated Hoyas (13-0) this week, as they take to the road for Tuesday's 9 p.m. game here at the Meadlowlands' Byrne Arena against Seton Hall, and Saturday's game at the Spectrum in Philadelphia against Villanova.
Georgetown already defeated Seton Hall this season, by 73-56 last Wednesday at Capital Centre. But it would not surprise Coach John Thompson and his team if the Pirates were a lot tougher this time, with a big crowd pulling for an upset.
"Having played them one time, hopefully we'll be a little more settled this time," Coach P.J. Carlesimo said after Seton Hall's practice this evening. "They outrebounded us at the Capital Centre by 15.
"We don't have to outrebound them this time, but we do have to keep it close. Patrick Ewing and Billy Martin combined for 26 rebounds last time. We just can't allow that to happen again.
"Plus, (forward) David Wingate had 17 points and four rebounds. We only had one front court player to score in double figures."
Georgetown, which won its first 10 games by an average of more than 20 points, appeared to react positively from its first truly close game.
"We've had a couple of close games this season," point guard Michael Jackson said, referring to relatively tight games in Puerto Rico's Copa Navidad against Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T.
"I think games like that are really good for us. The Big East is a tough conference. You have to expect close games and know how to deal with them."
It will help the Hoyas this week, close games or not, to have Jackson healthy after missing some time with a sore shoulder.
With one of the nation's leaders in assists back, another game or two should tell whether Thompson has settled on the seven- or eight-man rotation he said at the beginning of the season he wants to employ.
In many of the first 12 games, Thompson used 11 of the 12 players on the roster. But against Boston College, he went only with the starting five, plus center Ralph Dalton and guards Horace Broadnax and Perry McDonald.
Thompson seemed most pleased with how his team played against Boston College in five crucial minutes without Ewing, who was in foul trouble.
That the Hoyas were able to play so well without Ewing in the lineup is important because it might be happening more often. Boston College, which at times had no player taller than 6 feet 7 in the lineup, went inside as often as possible and got Ewing, a 7-footer, and Martin in foul trouble.
Certainly, more opposing teams will do that. "What BC did so well, and what we tried to do in the first game, was take it to them," Carlesimo said. "You have to go hard to the basket and cause them some problems.
"We have to be more aggressive than we were before, going inside, which sounds crazy since they're so big and such good shot blockers. But you can't just lay back and wait."
Carlesimo said "to some extent" it is encouraging to teams around the league that a visiting team gave Georgetown, which has won 24 straight over two seasons, such a tough game. "You always feel good when you see the current dominant team have a close game," he said. "But people underestimated BC, too.
"As dominant as Georgetown has been, people are still waiting to see what happens as Georgetown plays a few more games in the league."
It won't take long to find out.