When the Villanova Wildcats lost a 19-point lead on Sunday and fell to St. John’s, the fact that the Wildcats hadn’t lost consecutive Big East games since the reconfiguration of the conference in 2013 represented an ominous reality for the Georgetown Hoyas. They absolutely needed to beat Villanova on Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. if they wanted to make the NCAA Tournament.
As it turns out, Georgetown didn’t need to worry that much.
The Hoyas dominated Villanova from start to finish, playing their best game of the Big East season by far and vaulting up the bubble ladder. The Hoyas aren’t in great shape for an NCAA at-large bid, but they have given themselves a chance to earn that bid over the next three weeks after their 85-73 smackdown of the defending national champions.
Georgetown’s coach — the most famous Hoya athlete of all time — knows exactly what his team is up against in these coming weeks.
“We have to build on this, it can’t be just a one-game thing,” Patrick Ewing said. “We have five more games to go and our dreams and our goals are to make the NCAA Tournament.”
Ewing is referring to the number of regular-season games his Hoyas must play. Ewing’s team will then have to win at least one game at the Big East Tournament if Georgetown wants to feel good on Selection Sunday.
With Butler losing to Marquette on Monday night, Georgetown is the Big East’s best hope for a fifth NCAA Tournament team. Villanova and Marquette are locks. St. John’s is just about a lock but might want to win one more game to make absolutely sure. Seton Hall is still likely to get in, but the Pirates are playing their way toward the bubble and need at least two more wins, possibly three, to feel safe.
After those four NCAA Tournament teams, Georgetown leads Butler in the pursuit of a fifth bid. It is doubtful though not entirely impossible for the Big East to get a sixth bid, but Butler has to catch fire and stay hot over these next three weeks.
Georgetown is the Big East team with a real chance of snagging an unexpected NCAA bid.
That is not where GU wants to be at this time of year. The Hoyas ought to be a program which has a bid well in hand and is playing for a Big East title. However, no one expected that a few months ago, and everyone around the program understood this was not a quick fix when Ewing took over.
The fact that Georgetown is at least playing for an NCAA bid in late February — instead of playing out the string with no hope of a spot in Bracketville — represents progress. We will see if progress, which is definitely demanded by Georgetown fans next season, can arrive a little early in the nation’s capital.
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