HOLLANDER | Double Bye in Reach
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 14:02
If there was any doubt that the Big East remains the nation’s deepest basketball conference, it was put to rest in five overtimes in South Bend Saturday night. No. 12 Louisville, which remains in the top 15 this week despite losing four times already in conference play, fell in the fifth extra period to now-No. 21 Notre Dame.
The Irish, meanwhile, had been walloped earlier in the week by No. 6 Syracuse, whose sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams is vying with Georgetown sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. for Big East player of the year.
There is little debate that the Orange, in their final season as a member of the Big East, are once again the league’s best team.
But beyond Syracuse, the picture is much less clear, and Georgetown — at least as it stands now — is in the mix for a top-four finish and the attendant double-bye into the Big East quarterfinals.
Marquette, although it didn’t truly show it last night, is tough — as its victory over the Hoyas just after the New Year showed —but the rest of the Golden Eagles’ conference schedule so far is filled with the Big East’s worst teams.
Despite the depth of the conference and the number of good teams at the top of the standings, the Big East is soft at the bottom.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
DePaul, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Providence are some of the weakest, and Rutgers — as the Hoya faithful saw over the weekend — cannot be counted on to put up much of a fight, even at home.
So what, then, is the prognosis for the rest of Georgetown’s schedule?
Home dates against Rutgers and DePaul are not much cause for concern. Games at Villanova and UConn, meanwhile, are tough but manageable.
Even without graduated standout forward Yancy Gates, who ended Georgetown’s Big East tournament hopes last season, Cincinnati remains an incongruity with the Blue and Gray’s system. A victory at Fifth Third Arena on Friday is unlikely.
That leaves just two pivotal games to determine whether the Hoyas will start playing at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday or Thursday. Of course, as all basketball fans are well aware, that isn’t the only reason to care about whether Georgetown beats Syracuse.
In a perfect world, the Hoyas could hang two defeats on the Orange and send them from the Big East in the same way John Thompson Jr. “officially closed” Manley Field House.
That would be magical, but Porter’s best chance to make his case over Carter-Williams — and Georgetown’s best chance to put an exclamation point on a remarkable rivalry — will come in the final game of the regular season.
With a double bye on the line, that game should be more than worthy of cutting short one spring break day in Punta Cana in favor of the colder climes outside the Phone Booth.
EVAN HOLLANDER is a junior in the College and a former sports editor of The Hoya.