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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:00 AM

The new look Big East currently appears to be a four-team race. At least that’s what respected Power Ratings are suggesting. Georgetown and Xavier are two of the four. They play each other Wednesday Night in a game that will be nationally televised by the CBS Sports cable channel. Both the Hoyas and Musketeers look to be Dance-caliber teams who will be trying to chase down Villanova (#6 in the current AP Poll) and Creighton (#20) for the Big East championship.

Let’s get caught up with these two Big East contenders, as we preview a game serious fans and handicappers should be watching very closely Wednesday evening.


Computer Rankings

Georgetown: 41 in Pomeroy, 40 in Sagarin

Xavier: 31 in Pomeroy, 34 in Sagarin

College basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin both have these teams safely in the Big Dance in the moment…but not in the top 30. Georgetown and Xavier are capable of playing with anybody over 40 minutes…maybe not a string of somebodies in tournament action in March! The computers agree that Xavier is the better team at the moment.


Offensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)

Georgetown: #82

Xavier: #28

And, the main reason Xavier is the better team is because of offense. They’re one of the 30 best scoring efficiency teams when you adjust for pace factor and strength of schedule. Georgetown is in the top 100, which might be okay when thinking about more than 300 total teams in college hoops. But, that’s a poor ranking for a contender. It typically means the Hoyas will struggle to score in the halfcourt against teams who know how to defend. Remember that come tourney time.


Defensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)

Georgetown: #33

Xavier: #61

Things flip flop here though. Georgetown makes its name on defense (though this is still below what the truly elite defenses are doing). Xavier is softer on defense than they should be, which create an opening for the road underdog to do some damage in this big TV game. Xavier’s unimpressive defensive ranking by Dance standards is a key reason why you should think of them as a “one-game” spoiler rather than a serious threat to go deep.


Pace Ranking

Georgetown: #188

Xavier: #171

These teams play almost the exact same pace. Not too fast…not too slow…just a bit below average. They are going to seem slow when matched up against fast-paced powers. Believe it or not, this ranking is actually a bad sign for the Dance. Success in March is often linked to talented teams who push pace, or smart teams who slow it way down. This causes headaches for opponents in either direction. Neither Georgetown nor Xavier does anything creative that would cause headaches.


Against the Spread

Georgetown: 7-7

Xavier: 11-4

Well, Xavier has been causing headaches for oddsmakers! That’s one of the best ATS records of any college team this season. Georgetown usually gets respect in the market, making it tough for the Hoyas to post a great ATS record unless things are really clicking. Xavier clearly deserves more respect than they’ve been getting.

JIM HURLEY has studied this game closely. But, it’s too early as of press time to determine for certain if it’s going to be part of the Wednesday mix for customers. Wednesdays are like Saturdays on a weeknight because the schedules are so big. NETWORK will find you the best of the ESPN games from the NBA and the colleges, as well as possible sleepers from off-the-radar conferences.

You can purchase the final word during the day Wednesday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about basketball service, or combination packages that include the rest of football, call our handicapping office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Why are YOU taking so long to get involved with basketball? You should be winning seven days a week!

Back with you tomorrow for a stat preview of Ohio State/Minnesota in the Big 10. The Buckeyes have dropped to #11 in the most recent AP poll, and are hoping to climb back into the top 10 with a big road win. After that, it’s the AFC and NFC Conference championships this weekend featuring New England at Denver (posted Friday) and San Francisco at Seattle (posted Saturday).

The NFL is winding down to conclusion just as college basketball is revving up. Enjoy the Final Four in the NFL as you zone in on MARCH MADNESS! You’ll always get the BEST GAMES ON THE BOARD in ALL SPORTS right here from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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