Opponent: South Carolina

Location: MCI Center

Date & Time: Thursday Dec. 5, 7 p.m.

The Lowdown: Georgetown will almost certainly be undefeated going into this contest in early December after games against Grambling, James Madison, Towson and Coastal Carolina to open the season. The Gamecocks are the first of four games the Hoyas will play against teams from other major conferences. Last year, Georgetown knocked off South Carolina 70-68 in a game that was obscured by all of the Hoyas’ failures in close games the rest of the season. The Gamecocks lost their starting backcourt of Jamel Bradley and Aaron Lucas from last year’s squad that fell to Memphis in the NIT final. Tony Kitchings, a 6-foot-10 senior center, will play a large role in determining whether South Carolina takes a step up to the NCAA Tournament this March.

Opponent: Virginia

Location: University Hall, Charlottesville, Va.

Date & Time: Saturday Dec. 28, 2 p.m. (CBS)

The Lowdown: The Hoyas and the Cavaliers meet for the second-straight year, this time in Charlottesville. This will be Georgetown’s first visit to University Hall since its thrilling 115-111 triple-overtime victory in the first round of the 2000 National Invitation Tournament. Last year, Virginia enjoyed a Top-10 ranking through the end of January before its season imploded and ended with a first round NIT loss. Winning this game just before the start of the conference season would be huge confidence boost.

Opponent: Duke

Location: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.

Date & Time: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

The Lowdown: Probably only the Blue Devils could lose three underclassmen to the NBA draft, including the second and third picks overall in Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy, Jr. respectively, and still be the preseason favorite to win the ACC. If the Hoyas could somehow pull out a win at raucous Cameron, it would improve their NCAA Tournament resume tenfold. But this will be a tall mountain to climb. Junior guard Chris Duhon and senior forward Dahntay Jones lead the Blue Devils. In addition to these returning players, Duke boasts one of the nation’s best incoming classes. McDonald’s All-Americans Shavlik Randolph, J.J. Redick and Sean Dockery are the highlights of this year’s freshman crop.

Opponent: St. John’s

Location: MCI Center

Date & Time: Saturday, Jan. 18, noon

The Lowdown: The Hoyas’ conference schedule begins favorably and Georgetown should be 2-0 in conference play going into this Saturday afternoon contest. The Red Storm return most of the key pieces from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, including senior guard Marcus Hatten, who was fourth in the Big East in scoring in 2001-02 with an average of 20.1 points per game. A win here could conceivably put the Hoyas at 3-0 in conference play with a winnable home game against Rutgers following two nights later before Georgetown travels to meet conference favorite Pittsburgh.

Opponent: Pittsburgh

Location: Peterson Events Center, Pittsburgh

Date & Time: Saturday Jan. 25, noon

The Lowdown: If the Hoyas want to show the rest of the Big East Conference that they are a contender this season, a win against Pittsburgh would be the way to do it. The Panthers return all five starters from last year’s squad that finished first in the West Division and boat a No. 4 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll. Senior guard Brandin Knight, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, leads the Panthers into this first of two regular season meetings with the Hoyas.

Opponent: UCLA

Location: MCI Center

Date & Time: Saturday, Feb. 8, 1 p.m. (CBS)

The Lowdown: The Hoyas and Bruins meet for the second straight year, with the Bruins making the trip east this time. This late-season non-conference game should draw plenty of attention from the NCAA Tournament Selection committee and could be the quality win Georgetown needs to solidify its tournament chances. But a win in this game will not be easy. UCLA, ranked No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, returns a good chunk of last year’s squad that reached the Sweet 16. Jason Kapono, the Bruins leading scorer and rebounder in 2001-02, is back, as is sophomore guard Cedric Bozeman, who led UCLA in assists.

Opponent: Rutgers

Location: Louis Brown Athletic Center, Piscataway, N.J.

Date & Time: Tuesday Feb. 11, 7 p.m.

The Lowdown: For Georgetown, last year’s 89-87 overtime loss at Rutgers began a string of heartbreaking losses that would doom its NCAA Tournament hopes. They hope this year’s visit to central New Jersey will be a different story. Both teams should be in contention for a tournament bid, so this mid-February game will probably carry a great deal of weight. Senior guard Jerome Coleman, who averaged 17 points per game last year, leads the resurgent Scarlet Knights, who look to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in more than a decade.

Opponent: Syracuse

Location: MCI Center

Date & Time: Saturday, March 1, 1 p.m. (ABC)

The Lowdown: Whenever the Hoyas and Orangemen get together, it is a big game, but this late season matchup at MCI Center could decide which one of these teams hears its name called on selection Sunday 15 days later. The Hoyas have won four of the last five meetings, including last year’s victory at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse fans can be very thankful that freshman phenom Carmelo Anthony opted to not enter the NBA draft.

Opponent: Notre Dame

Location: MCI Center

Date & Time: Saturday, March 8, 4 p.m. (CBS)

The Lowdown: If Georgetown is going to have any consistent success this season, it will need its frontcourt dominance. This year’s undersized Notre Dame team will be the perfect opportunity for the Hoyas to flex their muscles. While Notre Dame boasts an impressive backcourt of senior Matt Carroll and sophomore Chris Thomas, all of the Irish’s frontcourt starters from last year have graduated. This last game of the regular season would be the perfect time for the Hoyas to break their three-game losing skid to Notre Dame at MCI Center.

Opponent: Big East Tournament

Location: Madison Square Garden, N.Y.

Date & Time: March 12-15 (ESPN/ESPN2)

The Lowdown: In the first 10 years of the Big East Conference’s existence, Georgetown won the Big East Tournament six times, the last coming in 1989. Since then though, the annual event at Madison Square Garden has been a source of tremendous frustration and missed opportunities for the Hoyas. They have lost in the title game four times, including an absolute heartbreaker in 1996 when Allen Iverson and the No. 5 Hoyas blew a double-digit lead in the final five minutes to No. 3 Connecticut. If this year is to be any different than last, the Hoyas will help their cause tremendously by finishing as one of the top two teams in their division and securing a first round bye.

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