Where has the season gone? It seems like it was just November when teams were kicking off their holiday tournaments, and here we are with only nine games remaining in the conference season before the Big East tournament. First up is a road game in Omaha at Creighton tomorrow (1/31/15), followed by four home and four away games through March 7th, ending at home against the Seton Hall Pirates. A few interesting facts about the remaining Big East contests:
1. Georgetown has not yet played two of the teams, St. John’s and Seton Hall, this season, and has home and away games with each. So there are a lot of questions with nearly half of the remaining schedule as the Hoyas have not matched up yet with The Johnnies or The Hall.
2. On February 4th, 9pm at home, the Hoyas have a chance to avenge their 60-57 OT loss to Providence on the road.
3. The Providence rematch is immediately followed up with a road trip to Philly on 2/7 to meet the revenge-hungry (and currently ranked #7) Villanova Wildcats in an afternoon matchup after the thrashing the Cats suffered at the hands of the Hoyas in the Phone Booth. It is never easy to win in Philly.
4. The first game vs The Hall is on the road on 2/10 followed by its first game vs. the Johnnies at home on 2/17 followed by a rematch with DePaul at Verizon on 2/17. The games against St. John’s are 11 days apart (in NY on 2/28) separated only by the DePaul game. Interesting scheduling.
5. Last but not least, the Hoyas will play its third game of the season against currently ranked #25 Butler in Indianapolis on March 3rd. The teams have split the first two contests, including the non-conference tournament matchup in the Battle4Atlantis on November 28th (64-58 Butler win) followed by the exciting 61-59 Hoya victory in D.C. on January 17th. The only currently nationally ranked teams in this lineup are ‘Nova and Butler, although St. John’s and Seton Hall have spent some time in the rankings this season.
Here are three scenarios I envision for the Hoyas down the stretch leading to the Big East tournament, starting with the best case scenario:
The ProminentPlay Scenario: While this analysis is more intuitive than stat-driven, the reasoning for each scenario is based on my several hours of watching the team play throughout the season and analyzing each player’s growth, team chemistry and trends. This ProminentPlay Scenario predicts that the Hoyas, in this best case scenario, will go 7-2 in its final 9 games to finish 21-8, 13-5 in the Big East, finish in the Top 25 (between 20 and 25) and have momentum going into the post-season tourney. The Hoyas have an opportunity to win the Big East regular season outright or share with other team/s depending on other teams’ finishes. This scenario predicts that the 2 losses will come on the road, at 2 of the following 3: Villanova, St. John’s or Seton Hall, most likely in Philly and in Newark. This scenario also assumes that the Xavier loss has shaken the team to the extent that they know they cannot lose games at Creighton, against DePaul and they need to resurrect the energy and confidence shown in the DePaul, Butler, Marquette and Villanova games. This scenario also assumes the Hoyas had the talent to beat Wisconsin and Kansas, but they were not ready early in the season to take those powers down. The upperclass leadership and freshmen will gel at the right time and scoring will be abundant rather than like pulling teeth and that the team will shoot over 48% from field goal range, 34% from the arc and 70% at the line, while minimizing turnovers and sharing the ball well, i.e. plenty of assists. They will also need to play “Gene Smith style” Lockdown defense, Josh Smith and Mikael Hopkins need to own the boards and the freshmen will play with the confidence and talent of experienced sophomores. 35% chance
The LessProminent Scenario: The Less ProminentPlay Scenario predicts that the Hoyas may have some trouble regrouping after the ugly loss to Xavier. While the team will beat Creighton tomorrow because if it doesn’t, the season may be doomed, in this LessProminent Scenario, will go 6-3-in its final 9 games to finish 20-9, 12-6 in the Big East, perhaps finish in the Top 25 (close to 25) and have a bit less momentum going into the post-season tourney. This scenario also provides the Hoyas with an opportunity to share in the Big East regular season title although this suggests that #7 Villanova will likely take that prize. This scenario predicts that 2 or 3 losses will come on the road, at Villanova, Butler, or Seton Hall, and if the Hoyas win one of those on the road, it may drop another home game to Providence or The Hall. While the Hoyas may struggle some, it has enough talent to pull through a tough conference schedule with half of its remaining games on the road. The Hoyas have not been a good road team and now is the time to correct course. Under ProminentPlay and LessProminentScenario alike, the Hoyas can play with the best teams in the land but will need to find some consistency to carry into the post season. 45% chance
The “We’dBetterRecaptureProminence” at the Big East Tournament Scenario: This scenario, at a 20% chance, has the Hoyas struggling to hit their stride down the stretch. They will lose 3 or 4 on the road or 3 on the road and one at home to finish 5-4 in the last 9, 19-10 and 11-7 in conference. Unranked, their post-season status will rely much more on what they accomplish in the Big East tourney, where they will need to reach the semis to prove their mettle.
Georgetown holds its future in its hands. With seniors on the way out, Smith, Hopkins, Trawick and Bowen, this group has something to prove. At the same time, the freshmen seem very eager to make an early mark. I think the key to which Scenario plays out is the extent to which these two groups combine to reach that common goal, whatever it may be:
1. A Big East title, regular season or otherwise;
2. An NCAA berth; and if 2,
3. How far could this team go. One game at a time, we shall see which Scenario materializes and the best way to approach it, as always, is one game at a time.
Be Prominent, Hoyas!