Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday Night Preview -- Hoyas need a win in Tampa

I see Georgetown a 6.5-point favorite on the road and I wince. We're talking about a team that's one exactly one game (against Rutgers!) in the past five weeks. How can they be favored to beat anybody, anywhere?

But the fact is that they must. At 13-10 overall, 4-8 in the conference, an NCAA Tournament appearance is a pipe dream. But a loss tonight would put any kind of postseason tournament appearance in jeopardy.

How? Well, the next three games after this are Marquette/Louisville/at Villanova. Not one of those looks like a game Georgetown can win, which means a loss tonight has them staring at 13-14 overall, 4-12 in conference at the end of the month. They'd have to finish the regular-season schedule by beating St. John's and DePaul and win a first-round Big East tournament game just to get to 16-15.

Yes, it is possible that they could miss the NIT.

So yeah. Tonight matters. It matters that they play the way they did in the final eight minutes of regulation at Syracuse on Saturday. It matters that they do whatever they can do to make sure Greg Monroe exploits South Florida's weakness on the inside. It matters that they defend Dominique Jones for all 40 minutes, in transition, on the perimeter and between him and the basket, because he's the guy who could take over the game and go all Stephen Curry on them if they get lazy.

There are places where people are writing that Georgetown, given its overall strength of schedule and wins against Memphis and UConn, can still make the Big Dance if it finishes hot. I do not believe this, personally, but if it were true it would require at least two wins in that Marquette/Louisville/at Nova gauntlet. But even that won't matter much if they can't, tonight in Tampa, win a game that they and everybody else who thinks they should be in any postseason tournament should win.

Elsewhere, Notre Dame-West Virginia looks bigger for Notre Dame, but it's not a nothing game for the Mountaineers either. They're still trying to get into that top eight and get a first-day bye in the Big East tournament. Right now they're ninth.

And what an opportunity for Providence. Syracuse remains the Friars' biggest win, but if they can pull the upset tonight in Louisville they'll likely solidify their spot in that aforementioned top eight and go a long way toward locking down an NCAA tournament berth of their own. Not saying it'll happen, but Louisville's slipped a little bit lately, is dealing with some roster/lineup issues and could be vulnerable if -- IF -- they play a poor game and Providence plays a great one.

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