In the weeks since a midseason slide derailed a promising start, the Georgetown men’s basketball team has talked about playing its way into the NCAA tournament. With two games left in the regular season though, opportunities for the Hoyas to fortify their résumé are dwindling fast.
Still, Georgetown could make the NCAA selection committee at least think twice about its tournament credentials by winning its final two regular season games, beginning Tuesday night against 13th-ranked Creighton.
“We’ve got to win,” Hoyas Coach John Thompson III said. “We win, we get in.”
A victory over the Bluejays at Verizon Center coupled with another on the road in the season finale against No. 6 Villanova not only would give Georgetown a bump in its RPI standing, currently No. 62, but also allow for the possibility of an extra day off in the Big East tournament that begins March 12 at Madison Square Garden. The top six teams in the conference earn byes into the quarterfinals.
At least the Hoyas presumably will be well rested heading into their senior day showdown with the second-place team in the Big East. Georgetown, which will recognize seniors Markel Starks, Nate Lubick, Aaron Bowen, Moses Ayegba and John Caprio , has had four days off since a 75-73 loss to Marquette at Bradley Center that dropped the Hoyas two games below .500 in the Big East and kept them in seventh place.
“It’s kind of closure in my Georgetown career,” Starks said. “It’s been an unbelievable ride. There’s a lot of people their whole lives who’ve been driven to come here and don’t have that opportunity. I tried to max that opportunity out as best I could.”
Georgetown (16-12, 7-9) has played just two games over the last 11 days, including a 74-52 win against Xavier on Feb. 22. But that triumph came less than 36 hours after Georgetown returned from Newark following an 82-67 loss to Seton Hall in a game that tipped off at roughly 9:15 p.m. at Prudential Center.
In an example of peculiar scheduling in the realigned Big East, Georgetown’s leisurely pace to close the regular season comes on the heels of a stretch in which five times it had one day of preparation between games. The Hoyas are the only team in the conference to have had six games with one day to prepare, not counting holiday tournaments.
“The schedule this year, I think it’s the single biggest thing that the league has to work out,” Thompson said. “Not just one-day prep, but the team that you’re playing has a week to prepare for you, and you have two days. If you look across the board, there’s a whole lot of issues this league has to get right, and it truly affects wins and losses.”
In the first meeting between the teams this season, Georgetown had four days before playing the Bluejays in Omaha, but the extended time didn’t help much in a 76-63 loss that was their fourth in a five-game skid.
The Hoyas did manage to slow senior forward Doug McDermott, whom Thompson called the best player in the country. The favorite to win national player of the year missed 10 of 15 shots and finished with 14 points, but Creighton (23-5, 13-3) pulled away thanks to four teammates reaching double figures.
McDermott is first in the country in scoring (26.0 points per game) and has scored at least 25 in eight consecutive games, including 27 in a 75-69 loss to Xavier on Saturday. McDermott is bidding to become the first player from a power conference to lead the country in scoring and have his team make the NCAA tournament since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1993-94.
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