Despite the entertainment quality and attendant television value of conference tournaments, league championships are not the best predictor of NCAA success. Even so, Georgetown’s loss to Syracuse on Friday taught us two things — one good, one bad — that will make all the difference as the Hoyas head into the Big Dance.

First, the bad news. The Orange are not a particularly good team, with a turnover-prone point guard in Michael Carter-Williams and a group that, despite sometimes heating up from three-point range, is not particularly adept at sinking field goals.

Given its strong defensive reputation, Georgetown should have dismantled Syracuse Friday night. Instead, it allowed the Orange to take one more field goal and knock down numerous uncontested three-pointers.

Unfortunately for the Hoyas, they lack the explosiveness to make a comeback based on turnovers after going down. The proof? Big East champs Louisville made Syracuse cough it up 13 times in the second half of the title game, one fewer turnover than Georgetown forced in its entire semifinal game.

Georgetown relies on strong shooting, especially from junior point guard Markel Starks and freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera on the perimeter and sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. in the paint.  But at some point in the tournament — as was the case Friday — shots aren’t going to fall, and Georgetown’s defense will have to go beyond getting stops and instead create offense. Whether it can do so remains to be seen.

There was also good news in New York, however, and that mostly dealt with the Hoyas’ depth.

In his best game of the season, Porter Jr. scored 33 points at Syracuse; in two subsequent meetings, he scored a combined 22. While the Big East player of the year offers immeasurable help across the court, someone has to step up to fill the scoring load.

Two players did just that in two games at the World’s Most Famous Arena: sophomore guard JabrilTrawick and sophomore center Mikael Hopkins.

Although Trawick had a poor shooting night — along with the rest of his teammates — against Syracuse, he performed well against Cincinnati, knocking down two big treys en route to nine points to pair with three assists.

Serving as another outside scoring threat to complement Starks and Smith-Rivera, Trawick helps free up Porter and junior forward Nate Lubick to do more inside.

That may also help Hopkins, who had his best game of the season in the loss to Syracuse. Although the sophomore has often been a source of frustration for fans, he nearly secured a double-double against the Orange, making the shots expected of him.

If he can stay out of foul trouble — and Trawick, who always seems one elbow away from a flagrant foul, can keep his temper in check — these two players have a lot to offer, especially in forcing other teams to focus as much on them as on proven scorers like Starks and Porter.

That’s a big positive for Georgetown, and it might just help the Hoyas prove that they can make a winning comeback. They’ll certainly need that if they are to reach Dallas, much less Atlanta.

 

EVAN HOLLANDER is a junior in the School of Foreign Service and former sports editor of The Hoya.

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