"That was then and this is now," as Villanova's Coach Rollie Massimino puts it, but it's still a moment Georgetown has been awaiting for a long nine months: its first crack at the Wildcats since the NCAA championship.

"Right now, we're just another team," Massimino said of his squad, which has lost seven games with only two starters back from the 25-10 club that shocked the Hoyas in the final, 66-64.

Regardless, Georgetown -- favored, as it was in April -- certainly will have extra incentive when it faces the Wildcats at 8 tonight in Capital Centre (WTTG-TV-5). Never mind that Villanova's Dwayne McClain, Gary McLain and Ed Pinckney, like the Hoyas' Patrick Ewing, are gone.

The unranked Wildcats now are a youthful team that starts two freshmen, but, Massimino said: "We've really been developing. The kids are starting to get to know each other."

Massimino has been encouraged by the play of freshmen Kenny Wilson and Doug West. Wilson scored 22 points in the Wildcats' 74-70 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday, and West, who has been playing with two hurt ankles, "is as good as most freshmen in the country," the coach says.

Georgetown is also a team in transition, trying to adjust to life after Ewing. The Hoyas' 13-3 record may look more impressive than Villanova's 12-7, but the Wildcats are 4-1 in the Big East to Georgetown's 4-2. And the Hoyas had to come from five points behind late in the game Saturday at lowly Seton Hall to win, 82-72, and reach that estate.

"There's a stigma, a charisma, attached to being the defending national champions, and every team on our schedule gets up for us because of that," Massimino says. "But actually, we're no different from any other young team in the nation."

And Georgetown is 63-9 at Capital Centre.