Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 9:00 PM
There are very few, if any, college basketball fans and sports bettors who thought the Georgetown Hoyas would be in control of their own destiny for the Big East championship in the final week of play. That seemed like a big longshot before conference action began…and an even bigger longshot the way Georgetown stumbled out of the gate in league play.
But…HERE THEY ARE!
Georgetown is 13-3 in the Big East standings with just two games left. If they win out Wednesday Night in a nationally televised game at Villanova, then Saturday in a big rematch with revenge-minded Syracuse, Louisville and Marquette can only stare up from below them in the final standings. The ball is in Georgetown’s court for an OUTRIGHT championship. They can lose one of the two and still claim a co-championship.
And, if you look beyond the Big East, Georgetown has now been slotted for a #1 seed according to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology at ESPN. The computers may love Louisville…but the selection committee will respect an outright regular season title in the second toughest conference in basketball this year.
All that being said…you know that a slew of highly regarded teams have LOST recently because they started thinking too quickly about the Dance. Georgetown…who barely won in overtime in their last road game at Connecticut…will be visiting a Villanova team Wednesday that’s sitting squarely on the bubble. The Wildcats have posted solid results at home this season…and know what this scalp would mean on their resume. Plus…don’t believe for a second that Syracuse is going to lay down without putting up a fight this weekend in their Big East finale (they move to the ACC next year) against a rival that just embarrassed them on their home floor.
Both of those games will get coverage here in the NOTEBOOK as we guide you through the marquee matchups in this final week of regular season action. Let’s see what our indicator gauntlet says about tonight’s big game…
Georgetown: 23-4 (13-3 in the Big East)
Villanova: 18-12 (9-8 in the Big East)
It’s hard to believe that Villanova is on the bubble with a winning record in a fantastic conference. They had some notable struggles before league play began…and a loss here would drop them to .500 in the league…which is always a borderline call for the Selection Committee. Fantastic year for the Hoyas. These guys have laid enough Dance eggs under this head coach that you have to worry about them peaking too soon. For now…they’re still playing at a high level.
Georgetown: #10 with Sagarin, #16 with Pomeroy
Villanova: #45 with Sagarin, #54 with Pomeroy
Jeff Sagarin of USA Today, and college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy don’t agree at all with Lunardi that Georgetown should be a #1 seed. Sagarin would have them as a #3 seed, while Pomeroy would make them a #4. How can you tell if Georgetown is overrated or underrated given all the varying assessments?! Both computer systems do have Villanova in bubble range. So many lesser teams get automatic bids that being about #50 in the nation is right near the cut-off. If it were up to us…we’d have the Wildcats in. We respect the Big East, and respect posting at least a .500 record in that circuit.
COMPUTER STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
Georgetown: #33 with Sagarin, #49 with Pomeroy
Villanova: #8 with Sagarin, #8 with Pomeroy
And, you absolutely, positively have to respect a team that played such a brutal schedule! The computers agree that Villanova played a top 10 schedule. So many borderline teams played weak schedules that this should count for something.
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. SAGARIN’S TOP 50
On the other hand…if you can’t post a winning record vs. the best teams on your slate, you’re probably not a Sweet 16 caliber team. We do think Villanova is a Dance team…and they will have spoiler potential if they get in. They’ll need to show us some good results in New York in the Big East tournament before we get overly optimistic about them making headlines away from their home floor. They are on their home floor tonight…against a Georgetown team that’s really gotten the job done late in close games vs. tough opposition. Maturity and poise for a team that too often gets branded as a collection of immature hotheads.
JOE LUNARDI’S BRACKETOLOGY
Georgetown: projected #1 seed
Villanova: projected #14 seed
We already told you about the Hoyas moving to the upper rung. Villanova is currently one of the last four teams in according to Lunardi. Though, we’re skeptical that major conference at-larges will go on the #14 line. Beating Georgetown might seal the invitation. In our view, that should already be sealed.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED OFFENSE RANKINGS
Moving to the chess match…we have a pair of struggling offenses once you adjust for tempo and strength of schedule. Villanova is seen by the media has having the better offense. That’s because they play at a much faster tempo. Once you look at per-possession data, it’s actually Georgetown who has the better scoring unit. Though, in postseason terms, these are both areas of weakness. Some of the powerhouses have offenses that are MUCH more productive than this. If you’re going to make the case that Georgetown is a horrible choice as a #1 seed, this is where you’d look. They really are way behind other powers on this side of the ball. Thus far, playing plodding, defensive basketball has helped counteract that.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED DEFENSE RANKINGS
Villanova has a better defense than you realized, with pace again being the pollutant. Georgetown has one of the five best defenses in the country. Yes, they play a slow game…but they really clamp down on opponents within that slow pace. Georgetown has a championship caliber defense, but a pedestrian offense.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED TEMPO RANKINGS
Great to have these pace dichotomies because it adds something interesting to the handicapping mix. Home teams generally impose their tempo on a game. That will give Villanova a chance to take Georgetown out of its comfort zone. The last thing you want to do is play Georgetown at its preferred pace.
Well, the narrative of recent action would suggest this is where Georgetown takes a hit (heck, Wisconsin took a hit against Purdue!), while Villanova uses home court to its fullest advantage. The problem with that is that Georgetown has posted very solid results on the road in Big East action…and they’ve had a much better record against Sagarin’s top 50.
This is an ideal matchup for computer simulations. JIM HURLEY has had his guys run the matchup through the ringer more than 1,000 times to account for every possibility. If Georgetown/Villanova qualifies for serious play, it will be part of what is shaping up as a busy and loaded Wednesday package.
Other Wednesday games under consideration:
#7 Michigan at Purdue (who just stunned Wisconsin)
#13 Oklahoma State at Iowa State (should be a thriller)
#16 Saint Louis at Xavier (big road challenge for surging Billikens)
North Carolina at Maryland (ESPN game from the ACC)
Stanford at California (rivalry special late night on ESPN2)
Boston at Indiana in the NBA (playoff preview?)
LA Lakers at New Orleans (must-win for Kobe)
Chicago at San Antonio (will Spurs miss Parker?)
Purchase the final slate here at the website with your credit card. Details on seasonal packages for March Madness or NBA through the playoffs is available in our home office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you tomorrow to preview Wisconsin at Michigan State…a huge game in the Big 10 and Dance picture with both power programs coming off Sunday losses. The schedule of exciting games isn’t going to slow down! ENJOY THE RIDE WITH JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!