The Georgetown men’s basketball team’s trajectory is familiar to all those who have followed the Hoyas for the past several years. Georgetown started off relatively underrated, with one player singled out as someone to watch this year (this year, it was D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, voted Big East Player of the Year during the preseason). The season began with a relatively difficult non-conference schedule, with one seemingly impressive win (against Florida, though this is not the Florida of the early 2000s, or even of last year), and several impressive close losses (against Wisconsin and Kansas).
Then the conference schedule began, and confirming the worst fears of Hoyas fans, it began poorly with a 17-point loss to Xavier. However, Georgetown recovered relatively quickly, and beat then #4 Villanova at home in an easy win, 78-58, and even claimed first place in the Big East, albeit temporarily.
What trends can be made out of the season so far? Unlike previous years, Georgetown has not (yet - knock on wood) lost a game to a clearly inferior opponent. In recent years, Georgetown has dropped at least one game to a team with a losing record, including DePaul, South Florida, and Providence (back when Providence was an also-ran, not a contender). Instead, Georgetown has lost to Xavier (twice), Providence (twice), and Villanova. Both of the losses to Providence were close, with one going to overtime.
However, Georgetown’s losses to Xavier, as well as its loss to Villanova, were all by significant margins, well over ten points each. Several similarities emerge between the losses. First, Joshua Smith, who has otherwise displayed the talents that led Georgetown to recruit him from UCLA, has struggled, fouling out in multiple losses. Additionally, Georgetown has failed to consistently score in the beginning of most of the losses. In particular, Smith-Rivera, who leads the team in average minutes, points, assists and steals per game, failed to score in the first half against Villanova.
As would be suspected, Georgetown gave up large shot percentages in the games they lost, with Villanova hitting 50% of 3-point shots and Providence shooting 53.5% overall.
Despite these negative signs, Georgetown still maintains a strong record that should appeal to the selection committee for March Madness. Georgetown lacks any bad losses, with the losses coming to teams that also have strong records. Ironically, Georgetown may hope for Xavier to do well, as Xavier’s record, other than beating Georgetown twice, does not look as strong as Georgetown’s (Xavier has lost to DePaul and Creighton, both of whom are struggling this year). At this point, Georgetown has played most of its toughest games. Thus, Georgetown should ensure that it sweeps St. John’s, positioning itself well for the Big East playoffs, before taking on Butler and Seton Hall to finish off the regular season.