- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2003

Georgetown is playing well at the right time.
Winners of four of their past six games, the Hoyas will seek to maintain their level of play today in their regular-season finale against No.16 Notre Dame at MCI Center. If Georgetown beats the Irish, it will carry much-needed momentum into the Big East tournament starting Wednesday in New York.
To capture the Big East tournament and the automatic NCAA tournament berth that goes with it, the Hoyas (14-12, 6-9 Big East) must win four games in four nights a feat never accomplished in the conference. Since the tournament changed to its current 12-team format, every winner has had a first-round bye.
"I think we can establish ourselves even more in the minds of the people that we are going to play against, and I think that's important to let people know that we're playing well also," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. "That's another reason from a psychological standpoint, not just for us but for whoever we're going to play."
The Hoyas are locked in as the West Division's fifth seed and will play the East Division's fourth seed, Providence or Villanova, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the first round at Madison Square Garden. Providence (14-12, 7-8) plays host to Seton Hall (16-10, 10-5) today. Villanova (15-13, 8-7) meets No.7 Pittsburgh (22-4, 12-3) at home tomorrow.
For Georgetown, this is an opportune time to play the Irish. Notre Dame has lost three straight, its longest skid of the season.
"Notre Dame is a heck of a team," Georgetown forward Mike Sweetney said. "We need to get this win and go into the Big East with our hopes up and have our prayers answered."
But defeating the Irish, especially at MCI, is no easy task. Notre Dame is 5-1 in the building, including two victories in this season's BB&T; Classic, and another victory there would give Notre Dame its first season sweep of the Hoyas. Notre Dame defeated Georgetown 93-92 in double overtime Feb.1 in South Bend, Ind. The only time Notre Dame lost at MCI was Feb.7, 1998, when Georgetown blew out the Irish 76-56 in Notre Dame's first visit.
"We're going to attack them and try to stop Mike Sweetney," said Irish guard Matt Carroll, Notre Dame's leading scorer at 21.1 points a game. "They have athletes that play tough defense, but Sweetney is clearly their No.1 scoring option. It's human nature to look ahead [to the tournaments], but we need to get a game under our belts. We've done so much this season we can't forget what we've accomplished."
The Irish are a finely tuned offensive machine with scorers all over the floor. Point guard Chris Thomas is a likely All-Big East first-teamer who averages 18.1 points. He's also fifth in the nation in assists, averaging 7.1.
Irish forward Dan Miller, a Maryland transfer, and backup point guard Chris Quinn are as deadly from behind the 3-point arc as Carroll (40.9 percent) and Thomas (36.7 percent). Miller makes 34 percent of his 3s and Quinn 40.4 percent.
Inside, the Irish counter with skilled size in 6-foot-10 freshman center Torin Francis (10.3 points, 8.0 rebounds). Backup center Tom Timmermans (6-11) and forward Jordan Cornette (6-9) bring big bodies who can rebound and score, despite playing half the minutes Francis gets.
"They have some great offensive players," Georgetown shooting guard Gerald Riley said. "We have to come in with a heck of a game plan. This could be a big momentum game for us going into the Big East tournament. Most of the teams we lost against and they're all in the Big East tournament weren't like blowout games. I know we can go into the Big East tournament and get some good wins."

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