Georgetown men’s basketball released its full, 29-game schedule for the 2017-18 season Tuesday morning, its first under Coach Patrick Ewing. Ewing appeared to go with the John Thompson Jr. method of scheduling weaker rivals before Big East play gets underway — Georgetown’s toughest nonconference matchup by far is Syracuse, which will visit Capital One Arena on Dec. 16 in a game scheduled to be broadcast on CBS. As for conference play, Ewing will open the Big East slate against another new coach in the conference in Butler’s LaVall Jordan on Dec. 27.
Here are the three takeaways from Georgetown’s schedule:
The nonconference schedule is purposefully light: Seven of Georgetown’s 11 non-Big East opponents were ranked below 320 (out of 351 Division I teams) in the Ratings Percentage Index last season. That is in keeping with Thompson’s mantra of focusing more energy on winning in conference.
“The Big East schedule is going to be tough enough to handle,” Ewing said in a meeting last month with Washington Post reporters and editors. “It’s always been tough. It was tough when I was playing. So, you know, you don’t have to play the toughest nonconference schedule. It’s all about where you end up at the end. . . . Do the best job that we can in the Big East and let the chips fall where they may. And hopefully we’ll be able to be in the NCAAs and do our work there.”
A trip to Richmond, which made it to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament last year, is Georgetown’s only road game during nonconference play, and Syracuse is its biggest highlight. That rivalry game against the Orange will have extra meaning for Hoyas assistant coach Louis Orr, who went to Syracuse in 1976 as a part of Jim Boeheim’s first recruiting class there and had his number retired in 2015.
Another game that should stick out is the game against Howard on Dec. 7. A matchup against the Bison is nothing new — Georgetown beat Howard when they played last season — but local games like this take on a new significance under Ewing, who is tasked with reestablishing Georgetown’s brand in Washington.
Georgetown won’t play any out-of-town tournaments: In August, the Hoyas pulled out of the Phil Knight Invitational in Oregon over Thanksgiving weekend, a tournament that would have pitted them against Michigan State and had them in same gym as the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Florida and Gonzaga. Now, it appears as though Georgetown won’t be playing a replacement out-of-town tournament. Such tournaments are generally a way to draw attention to a program in an out-of-market region or, as with the Phil Knight Invitational, to demonstrate some kind of status.
A big part of the decision to not play at PK80 is that Ewing doesn’t feel the need to go against the country’s toughest programs in his first year on the job, when the spotlight will arguably be brightest.
“It’s my belief that, why go out there and get my a — kicked to show my recruits that we need their help when I can stay home and watch other people get their butts kicked,” Ewing said. “Do my recruiting, keep on telling the people we need that we need them, recruit them and do my job to help my team, build them up and show them what my visions are of them and win as many games as we can.”
The Big East’s coaching matchups may be the conference’s biggest stories: Georgetown fans should mark their calendars for Tuesday, Jan. 9: Georgetown vs. St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. The rivalry between Ewing and St. John’s Coach Chris Mullin helped the Big East become the conference to watch in the 1980s. A good rivalry renewal is one way to get Hoyas fans buzzing again.
“It’s always good to have good rivalry, and St. John’s and Georgetown, we had some knockdown, drag-out fights,” Ewing said. “. . . I think it’s great. It’s sad that a lot of the schools that started the Big East are not in it. . . . Football lured everybody away. The Big East was the Big East when I was there. We ruled college basketball. My senior year, we had three teams in the Final Four. I don’t know if we will ever get back to that level, but we would love to be able to at least get close.”
Here’s Georgetown’s schedule in full, with home games in bold. All times Eastern.
Sun., Nov. 12: Jacksonville, noon, Fox Sports Networks
Wed., Nov. 15: Mount St. Mary’s, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 2
Sat., Nov. 18: UMES, noon, FSN
Sat., Nov. 25: at Richmond, TBA, TBA
Tues., Nov. 28: Maine, 8:30 p.m., TBD
Sat., Dec. 3: Coppin State, 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Thurs., Dec. 7: Howard, 8:30 p.m., FS1
Sat., Dec. 9: North Carolina A&T, 2:30 p.m., FS2
Sat. Dec. 16: Syracuse, 12:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Wed., Dec. 20: North Texas, 7 p.m., FS2
Sat., Dec. 23: Alabama A&M, noon, FS1
Wed., Dec. 27: Butler, 6:30 p.m., FS1
Sat., Dec. 30: at Marquette, 4:30 p.m., FS1
Tues, Jan. 2: at DePaul, 9 p.m., FS1
Sat., Jan. 6: Creighton, noon, FSN
Tues., Jan. 9: at St. John’s, 6:30 p.m., FS1
Sat., Jan. 13: at Seton Hall, noon, FS1
Mon., Jan. 17: Villanova, 6:30 p.m., FS1
Sat, Jan. 20: St. John’s, noon, FS1
Wed., Jan. 24: DePaul, 8:30 p.m., FS1
Sat., Jan. 27: at Creighton, 8 p.m., CBSSN
Sat., Feb. 3: at Xavier, 6 p.m., CBSSN
Tues. Feb. 6: at Providence, 8:30 p.m., FS1
Sat., Feb. 10: Seton Hall, 4 p.m., CBSSN
Sat., Feb. 13: at Butler, 6:30 p.m., CBSSN
Wed., Feb. 21: Xavier, 6:30, FS1/Fox
Sat., Feb. 24: Providence, noon, CBSSN
Mon., Feb. 26: Marquette, 7 p.m., FS1
Sat., March 3: at Villanova, TBA, Fox