The Washington Times - December 14, 2009, 10:36AM

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish offered up some thoughts on Georgetown’s situation over the weekend after back-to-back neutral floor defeats of Butler and Washington – and it’s certainly worth an even closer look.

Georgetown is now 8-0, with four victories away from Verizon Center. The Hoyas have played three teams that could still be fairly described as probable NCAA tournament selections (Temple, Butler and Washington).

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Of course, they were 7-1 at this time last year, having already beaten three eventual NCAA tournament teams (American, Maryland and Memphis) – and that was on the way to 10-1 and a road whipping of Connecticut.

So there’s obviously a temptation to compare seasons. Georgetown went on to plummet to 16-15 and was bounced from the first round of the NIT.

It was enough to warrant plenty of questions about the outfit, even with Greg Monroe around. It was quite stunning to see how that cratering was forgotten about in the preseason when the Hoyas popped up in the high teens in some rankings. Applying a “show me” philosophy, I plugged the Hoyas in at No. 39 – in the same neighborhood as equally hyped (and even less accomplished a season prior) Georgia Tech.

Of course, an 8-0 start is an 8-0 start, and Georgetown is No. 11 on my ballot this week. But as people wonder whether the Hoyas are following last year’s season trajectory, it’s important to remember just how much different that looked compared to the rest of John Thompson III’s time at the school.

* In 2004-05, the Hoyas started 4-3. By year’s end, they were beating West Virginia, pestering nearly everyone they played and advancing three rounds into the NIT.

* In 2005-06, the Hoyas were 3-2 and by mid-January had all of one victory over a team that would eventually finish with a winning record. Then they took out Duke. And Pittsburgh. And Syracuse. All those came at home, but it hinted at the Sweet 16 run that was to come.

* In 2006-07, the Hoyas were 4-3 with home losses to Old Dominion (NCAA at-large team) and Oregon (Elite Eight) and a road loss to Duke. They also started 1-2 in the Big East. But then came 15 wins in 16 games and a Final Four run.

* After grazing on eventual triple-digit RPI plankton to start the season, the Hoyas’ first stern test led to a pounding at Memphis. Back-to-back pre-New Year’s routs presaged some quality play until Georgetown got Curryed in the NCAA tournament.

All those teams showed flaws early, then got better. Last year, the Hoyas looked remarkable early, then got worse – which was a far greater anomaly than a 16-15 record.

So what to make of the Hoyas? They didn’t look good in beating a Temple team that’s clearly better than anticipated. And trying to figure out the value of upending Butler and Washington is difficult considering the losses those teams have taken.

For now, Parrish is right. Georgetown, with a significantly different look from last year, is probably a top-20 team and perhaps better. On a night-in, night-out basis, the Hoyas might not be quite at the same level as the top two or three teams in the Big East.

But after the last week or so – and presuming the Hoyas have flipped back to their typical gradually-get-better season arc – I’ll let someone else take that bet. These guys have a chance to remain in the conference title hunt until the end.

Patrick Stevens