Two months and a day after walloping rival Syracuse at Verizon Center to move to 12-3 (3-2 Big East), the Hoyas are officially headed to the National Invitational Tournament, where sixth-seeded Georgetown will face No. 3-seed Baylor at 9 p.m. in Waco, Texas, on Wednesday.

It is a tough pill to swallow for Georgetown, which once seemed destined for March’s more prestigious tournament – a tournament which will see three Big East squads as top seeds, a pair as No. 3 seeds, including the Orange, and another two squads seeded sixth. But then again, nearly all of 2009 has been tough for Hoyas’ fans to swallow, with Georgetown winning just four times in 15 tries since that January evening.

The NIT is a 32-team tournament with its final four played at Madison Square Garden.

After three seasons in the NCAA tournament, the last two as No. 2 seeds, Georgetown returns to the NIT. The Hoyas were relegated to that consolation bracket in Head Coach John Thompson III’s first year on the Hilltop as well. That team’s key contributors were three juniors, a sophomore and three freshmen. This season’s squad is just as young or younger, with one senior, one junior, four sophomores (including Chris Wright, who played sparingly a year ago and Julian Vaughn, who played for Florida State last season), a redshirt freshman and three true first-years. Kenpom.com ranks Georgetown 316th out of 344 teams in experience.

Perhaps, then, it is no coincidence that the Hoyas ranked 343rd in consistency.

“I’m not trying to put all of it on this, but a large part of it is youth,” Thompson said after his team lost to St. John’s in the Big East tournament. “I’m not trying to place the blame on that but it is a fact. We have one senior, with Jessie [Sapp] – Bryon [Jansen] is a walk-on – we have one junior with DaJuan [Summers], and you have Chris [Wright] who is a sophomore, but he’s going through the league for this first time. So that factors into it. Hopefully as a coach, you learn that the lessons learned – you can learn them and not make the same mistakes. Obviously, we’re going to have the core group back and its not the time to talk about next year, but like I said, I felt confident going into every game this year and the hurt of this year hopefully will help us in the future.”

Baylor finished 5-11 in the Big 12 this season but made an improbable run to the conference title game, where the Bears lost to Missouri. An NCAA tournament team a year ago, Baylor is led by its backcourt, where Curtis Jerrells (16 points per game) and LaceDarius Dunn (15.3 points) are both threats from long range. Senior forward Kevin Rogers chips in 12.2 points and 7.6 boards a night.

Though the fall from being back-to-back Big East regular season champs to the bottom of the league pack has left many in shock, such a fate for such a young team is not without precedent.

Despite the season’s surprising ending, Thompson scoffed at the idea of simply writing off the rest of this season.

“I’m not doing that,” he said. “As frustrating as this year has been, as young as this group is, I literally have gone into every game thinking we can win and if we get a chance to play another one I’m sure I’m going to feel that way then. There is nothing that is going to make us say lets not focus on those guys that are in that locker room right there, as hard and as frustrating, as difficult at times as it is.”

Wednesday evening’s game will be televised on ESPN2.

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