MEN'S BASKETBALL | Georgetown Holds on to No. 2 Seed in Philly
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 02:03
Lose three star players, subtract a seed line: All in all, it wasn’t a bad haul for the 2012-13 Georgetown men’s basketball team (25-6, 14-4 Big East), which heard its name called Sunday as a No. 2 seed in the South Region of the 2013 NCAA tournament. The Blue and Gray will take on No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast in the Round of 64 in Philadelphia, with the winner of No. 7 San Diego State and No. 10 Oklahoma potentially up next.
Featured on CBS as part of the annual Selection Show, the Hoyas gathered in O’Donovan Dining Hall just after 5 p.m. Sunday, and throngs of fans joined them following a parade that began in Red Square.
None could really have left Leo’s disappointed.
Despite a devastating overtime loss in the Big East tournament semifinals to Syracuse — placed as a No. 4 seed in the East — in the teams’ third meeting, John Thompson III and Co. managed to hold on to the No. 2 seed that most resident bracketologists had been predicting for the final quarter or so of the season. Some pre-Selection Sunday bracket projections had Florida or New Mexico bumping Georgetown down one to their 2012 spot, but, in the end, the Hoyas did not even receive the last No. 2.
That slot, somewhat mind-bogglingly, belongs for all intents and purposes to Duke, which was drawn into the Midwest alongside overall No. 1 seed and Big East tourney champs Louisville. The Cardinals’ placement at the top might indeed have been the Hoyas’ if they had been able to take care of business at the Garden, but Thompson III’s squad is likely better off as is.
Kansas is the No. 1 seed down South after its 70-54 demolition of West No. 4 Kansas State in the Big 12 title game Saturday. Bill Self’s team might have a tougher path to the Elite Eight than Georgetown does, however, with suddenly hot No. 8 seed North Carolina, No. 5 seed and constant upset threat Virginia Commonwealth and fourth-seeded Michigan (and probable Wooden Award winner Trey Burke) all on the Jayhawks’ side of the bracket.
The Blue and Gray did draw what likely amounts to the field’s toughest No. 15 seed this year in Florida Gulf Coast — who easily handled another No. 2 seed, Miami (FL), 63-51 in November; even so, ESPN’s GamePredictor model gives the Eagles just a 5.2% chance of pulling the upset. San Diego State or Oklahoma would obviously pose more of a threat in the Round of 32, but each will be even farther away from home than FGCU, seemingly given Georgetown a distinct advantage.
That’s not to say that the Wells Fargo Center was particularly kind to Georgetown during the team’s lone visit back on March 6, of course, when Villanova continued its Davidian takedown of top-10 teams at home in a 67-57 win. With the Wildcats far away on the other side of the South bracket, though, the Hoyas will presumably become the de facto home team in the City of Brotherly Love.
“We were sitting in Leo’s on Sunday when our name was drawn and immediately started hugging each other,” Hoya Blue President Andrew Rennie (COL ‘13) said. “We do trips to ‘Nova on a regular basis. Philly is far enough away to warrant a road trip, but not so far that people will feel themselves aging on the bus [like with] Alabama, Cuse, etc.”
And although funding for the buses and tickets initially looked thin for Hoya Blue, Rennie said, the group was successfully able to lobby the Student Activities Commission towards the end of last week for the money it needed to subsidize the trip. Thanks to those efforts, two buses (accommodating 114 total students) will now be available for the Friday and Sunday games.
If Georgetown is to advance beyond Sunday, it would begin play in Arlington, Texas, where — in poetic fashion, perhaps — it could well finish an actual game against third-seeded Florida. That wasn’t the case, as Hoya fans know, in the two sides’ season opener Nov. 9 aboard the USS Bataan, with the contest canceled at halftime due to condensation on the court. No. 6 seed UCLA, whom Georgetown topped 78-70 at the Legends Classic 10 days later, represents another potential regional semifinal opponent.
As far as Kansas’ half of the region is concerned, VCU would represent a matchup nightmare if Head Coach Shaka Smart is able to continue his tournament magic and reach the Sweet 16. But that’d mean likely having to get past Burke, whose ability to protect the ball is just what has done in the up-tempo Rams in most of their losses this season.
Thompson III has just two NCAA tournament wins to his name since leading the Hoyas to the 2007 Final Four. Since then: second-round loss, NIT, first-round loss, first-round loss, second-round loss. Three of their four defeats came in unequivocal upsets.
This time around, with unanimous Big East player of the year Otto Porter Jr. leading the way, Georgetown is hoping that the magic of ‘07 — rather than the futility of recent years — finally makes its triumphant return.