Wednesday night will mark the first time this season that the Georgetown men’s basketball team will participate in a nationally televised contest.

In past years, such an event was no cause for commotion. But in 2004-05, with no games slated for a national audience at the season’s get-go, Hoya fans should be elated by this stroke of good fortune.

ESPN has come up with a new gimmick to market college basketball games, and Georgetown is a beneficiary of this development. A new special called “Turn Back the Clock” is currently airing on ESPN Classic – a network that typically airs only historically significant games and documentaries – since December.

The Hoyas are slated to have two of their remaining contests – including tomorrow’s 8 p.m. tip-off with Seton Hall – broadcast on this network, complete with old-school announcers, retro graphics and whatever actions of fans and players will convince viewers that Carter is still in the White House.

While this coverage might not suffice for those supporters of Georgetown men’s basketball who have been clamoring for more recognition, it will undoubtedly give John Thompson III and his players more of the credit they deserve.

Apparently the media has finally come to acknowledge our team’s success.

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale wrote a column last Monday about this season’s rookie head coaches who have done particularly well in their first year on the job. Vitale purported that Thompson sits at the top of that class. That same day, at halftime during a matchup of Big East foes Syracuse and Rutgers, the talk wasn’t about the Big East’s currently ranked teams, like UConn, Pitt and BC. It was all about Hoya paranoia, with “Georgetown” and “top 25” being mentioned in the same breath.

The only thing left for our young team to earn is the support of its fans – support that would best be displayed in the form of a loud and proud home crowd that can provide a true home-court advantage. There’s no reason for the MCI Center to be as loud when Chris Thomas or Luther Head sinks a trey as when Roy Hibbert takes it to the house.

While two of Georgetown’s biggest yet-to-be-played matchups are on the road at UConn and Notre Dame, Villanova does come to town Feb. 27 for what is sure to be a pivotal contest in terms of conference tournament seeding and bragging rights (especially after the Hoyas spoiled the Wildcats’ celebration of their 20-year NCAA championship anniversary with a 66-64 win at Villanova Jan. 15).

As for tomorrow’s game – sure, it’s only Seton Hall, a team with a 2-4 conference record. But we have to take what we can get. And when the number of nationally televised games on our team’s schedule has dwindled from 11 in 2001-02 to eight to three to none, this development should be about as exciting as learning that benchwarmer Tyler Crawford can actually put up some points when given the chance.

Get out to this game. And the next one. And the one after that. And if you’re still on the fence about spring break plans, just pocket the couple grand you would have blown in Cancun or Jamaica and pick up a cheap round-trip ticket to New York for Mar. 9-12. The Hoyas have the potential to make lots of noise in the conference tourney at Madison Square Garden, and there’s no reason for their fans not to be there to help get them started.

Sports purists might be up in arms over what ESPN is trying to do, construing the ESPN Classic broadcasts as yet another over-commercialization of the game. And your roommates might think that going to MCI Center decked in ’70s garb is lame. Do it anyway.

It’s a step closer to national prominence for Georgetown basketball. It’s an opportunity to get potential recruits to pay attention to us. And if I could have my way, it’d be an occasion for Jeff Green to ditch the dreads and bust out an awesome afro.

So long as his mom’s there to enjoy the spectacle.

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