Has Georgetown officially transitioned to the Big Ten Conference? It might seem that way as this afternoon the Hoyas travel to its home away from home, Madison Square Garden, to take on the Wisconsin Badgers, 2015’s runner up to Duke in the NCAA national championship. The Badgers under Coach Bo Ryan (is this his last season) lost key pieces from last season’s team, including highly decorated center Frank Kaminsky, who has taken his game to the NBA. However, many strong pieces remain.
The Hoyas lost 75-71 to (now) Big Ten member University of Maryland on Tuesday night, and hope to build upon its strong play in that game as it still seeking its first victory of the season.
While the Badgers also lost its home opener to the Western Illinois Lethernecks, they have since beaten Siena and North Dakota. The Hoyas have yet to taste victory this season but tonight would be a perfect appetizer before the finals of the 2K Classic, against the winner of Duke and VCU. What blue and gray blooded Hoya fan wouldn’t relish a shot at national champion Duke on Sunday? First, Georgetown must defeat the Badgers.
Wisconsin averaging 79 points per game so far this season, led by junior point guard Bronson Koenig, who averages 19 points per game. Nigel Hayes has scored 14 ppg and Vitto Brown, 13ppg, Redshirt freshman Ethan Happ scored 17 points against North Dakota, and averages 9.7 per game. So no Frank Kaminsky, but Wisconsin has a few scorers, which means the Hoyas defense will have to be at least as strong as it was in College Park.
Keys to the Game:
- Bradley Hayes Become the Hoyas’ Kaminsky: Hayes must continue to dominate on offense and step up his defense. I am looking for a greater presence on D as Hayes continues to score and dominate the boards. Hayes is averaging a double-double of 17.5 points and 10 rebounds through Georgetown’s first two games, which is rather remarkable since he played limited minutes throughout his junior season.
- D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera needs to step up his game and become the senior leader and scorer the team needs. He is averaging 14.5 per game, and he should have assistance in the offensive column by Isaac Copeland (12 ppg) and assists (DSR and Copeland combine for 8.5 assists per game).
- Freshmen Break Out Game: Whether this is the Marcus Derrickson Break Out Game or one where the 3 freshmen make their presence known, a Georgetown victory must include a strong performance from Derrickson or the Frosh Triumverate of Derrickson-Govan-Johnson.
- LJ Peak-ness. I see LJ picking up his game in the early season. Let him run, let him fly, let him play. The farther this team strays from that nauseatingly mischaracterized “Princeton Offense”, the greater this team will be.
- Paul White Returns? If White is back and well, then the Hoyas chances of “upsetting” the Badgers increases.
While the Badgers are slight favorites (2.5 point spread), I think it’s even as the Hoyas are essentially playing on what should feel like a home court.
Prediction: Hoyas 72, Badgers 67
Let’s meet Duke on Sunday!