There is a reason tonight’s Georgetown-DePaul game will be on ESPN Classic. In the ’80s, it would have been a great game.

Today, however, in 2006, the Hoyas and Blue Demons are two teams in two vastly different places. No. 17 Georgetown enters the game 14-4 (5-2 Big East) and winner of four straight games. DePaul, conversely, finds itself 8-10 and just 1-6 in their inaugural season in the Big East.

The Hoyas are coming off a resounding 76-57 win over Cincinnati. They led for almost the entire game, trailing only at 2-0 and 4-3. Sophomore forward Jeff Green dropped 20 cool points for Georgetown.

DePaul, however, has lost six of seven conference games. They have been out of action since last Wednesday, when they fell to arquette, 62-47. Four days before that defeat, they were beaten by a single point at Providence. Their lone win during the slide came at home against Notre Dame. The Hoyas needed two overtimes to do it, but they also defeated Notre Dame this year, in an 85-82 decision a week ago today.

Though they are wanting of victories, and their chances of postseason play are quickly fading, the Blue Demons have not been without their fair share of close games. In addition to their one-point loss at Providence, they lost by three in their first game against Marquette, by 10 in overtime against Rutgers, by eight at No. 9 Pittsburgh, and by five against Bucknell.

Still, the fact remains that DePaul is a sub-.500 team. The Blue Demons have been led thus far by junior guard Sammy Mejia, who has averaged 15.8 points and 4.8 rebounds this year. Lately, however, he has been dogged by a bum ankle that has his status as probably, but not guaranteed, to play against the Hoyas.

Draelon Burns, a sophomore guard, has only started five of DePaul’s games, but he is second on the team in scoring at 12.5 per game. Freshman forward Wilson Chandler has been the Blue Demon’s most significant post presence, chipping in 9.4 points and 7.1 assists per contest.

Chandler is just 6-foot-8, and senior center Marlon Brumfield is only 6-foot-9. DePaul’s tallest player, Keith Butler, is 7-foot-1, but, much like Georgetown’s Pat Ewing Jr., is a transfer and forced to sit the season out. Look for Georgetown to try and take advantage of their height and exploit DePaul down low.

Of course, there was a time when a Georgetown at DePaul match-up would have been front page news. Five times in the 1980s the two teams played, four times with both in the AP Top 25. The first meeting, the only one in the decade in which one team wasn’t ranked, came on Dec. 29, 1980, with No. 1 DePaul winning beating an unranked Georgetown team, 72-67.

Three years later, the Hoyas were out to extract revenge, and ranked No. 3 in the nation, they must have felt pretty good about their chances. It was the No. 13 Blue Demons, however, that came out on top, 63-61, in a classic. Georgetown did have the last laugh, as Patrick Ewing led them to the NCAA Championship later in the ’83-’84 season.

The next year, Georgetown entered the match-up No.1 in the land, and showed no signs that they weren’t the nation’s best, beating No. 15 DePaul, 77-57. The Hoyas won the next year as well, 85-70, and again in 1987, 74-71.

All time, the Hoyas lead the series 13-6, with the last meeting coming in 1998, a 65-59 Georgetown victory. The Hoyas have won four straight.

Back to the present, to be successful in Chicago, Georgetown simply needs to maintain the efficient offense and tight defense they’ve demonstrated in their last four victories.

Offensively, the Princeton offense is truly beginning to click. Predicated on conservative use of the shot clock, back door cuts, and open outside shots, two tell-tale signs of a well-oiled Princeton offense are assists and three-point percentage.

Against Cincinnati, the Hoyas had assists on 22 of their 30 baskets. Against Duke, Georgetown had 24 assists on 32 field goals. On the season, the Hoyas have racked up assists on 64.1 percent of their baskets. As a means of comparison, the University of Washington, the nation’s highest-scoring team, has an assist on roughly 56.7 percent of their baskets.

Additionally, Georgetown ranks 15th in the nation in field goal percentage (48.9 percent). The Hoyas lead the Big East, and sophomore center Roy Hibbert ranks 48th nationally at 60 percent. From three-point territory, the Hoyas shoot 37.7 percent, good enough for 56th in the country and fourth in the Big East. If Georgetown continues to shoot the lights out, they could be one of the nation’s toughest teams to contend with down the stretch.

First the Hoyas damned the Blue Devils. Now they have the task – a considerably easier one – of exorcising the Blue Demons. Tonight, at 8:30 p.m., at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., the Hoyas will look to keep racking up assists, hitting the open shots, and, most of all, winning basketball games.

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