Friday, February 29, 2008

The Hoyas hold the trump cards as the Big East’s principal regular-season players prepare to spread their hands down the stretch.

With two games remaining on its slate, No. 11 Georgetown (23-4, 13-3 Big East) is in prime position to repeat as the league’s regular-season champion.

“We’re totally focused on Marquette,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, whose Hoyas face the 21st-ranked Golden Eagles (21-6, 11-5) tomorrow at Bradley Center. “We’ll pick our heads up at the end and figure out where we stand.”

Though there is still a raft of potential scenarios given the nine remaining games featuring the four teams in contention for the conference crown, one thing is certain: If Georgetown sweeps its final two games against Marquette and Louisville, then the Hoyas will win the league title.

Even in its gilded age as perhaps the defining team of the 1980s, Georgetown never won consecutive Big East titles. The Hoyas did win back-to-back divisional titles (1996-97) in the brief split-league era, but Georgetown wasn’t the top seed at the Big East tournament in either of those seasons.

“I was looking on the Internet, and even when my dad was here, they never won the regular season or the tournament title two years in a row,” senior forward Patrick Ewing Jr. said. “That is crazy because I thought they would have won a bunch of them. He has three Final Fours, and hopefully I’ll get two regular-season and tournament titles back-to-back. Then finally I’ll have something on him.”

Regardless of the outcome at Marquette, the Hoyas likely will play for the top seed in the conference tournament when they welcome No. 13 Louisville (23-6, 13-3) to Verizon Center for the regular-season finale March 8. The Cardinals hold the tiebreaker over Georgetown based on their 59-51 victory over the Hoyas at Freedom Hall on Feb. 9. But the Hoyas can erase that edge with a victory over Louisville at the building where they have nation’s fifth-longest active winning streak at 21 games.

“Let’s not jinx it,” Thompson said. “But, yes, it is always nice to close out your schedule at home in front of our fans.”

If the Hoyas were to lose to Marquette and then beat Louisville, the most likely result would be a four-team tie at the top at 14-4. The Big East tournament’s top seed and de facto regular-season crown would then go to whichever of those four teams has the best record against the others. Courtesy of its split with Louisville and victories over Notre Dame and Connecticut, Georgetown’s 3-1 record in the “mini-conference” then would earn it the league’s top seed.

“It’s fun to know that you control your own destiny,” Ewing said. “It’s good to know that we have it in our hands. [Notre Dame and Connecticut] don’t have that situation. They have to depend on other people losing.”

Even a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is still potentially in play for the Hoyas if they win all their games through the Big East tournament. If current form and position hold (however unlikely), Georgetown would finish 28-4 with eight straight wins, including a five-game spurt against teams with RPI rankings of 15 (Marquette), 12 (Louisville), 58 (Villanova), 21 (Notre Dame) and 11 (Connecticut).

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide