Unfortunately, the script was flipped. Georgetown could not contain the Bulls' Solomon Jones and traveled back to Washington, D.C. with an agonizing loss. The defeat meant the Hoyas would have to play a day earlier than imagined on Wednesday in the Big East Tournament against Notre Dame. Tip-off at Madison Square Garden is at 2 p.m. Not only does Georgetown have to play on Wednesday without the benefit of a bye, they have to face a scrappy Irish team that, despite their record, gives opponents all they can handle.
"We obviously would have liked to win that game," head coach John Thompson III said about the loss to South Florida. "We would have liked to have Wednesday off. But we don't. The mindset of the regular season is over and now it's time for the mindset for the Big East Tournament. We have to win four games now. It's coach speak but we have to take it one game at a time. Our focus is on Notre Dame and then we'll move on from there if we win."
The focus should start on the first meeting between these two teams. Georgetown escaped the Joyce Center with a 85-82 double overtime win back on January 24th. Roy Hibbert, the Hoyas' 7'2" big man, dominated down low with 18 points and 13 rebounds. The balance was present for Georgetown as five Hoyas scored in double figures. The close loss mirrored the theme of the season for Notre Dame. Chris Quinn, recently named first-team all-conference by the Big East coaches, had a chance to win it at the end of the first overtime but his three-foot shot rimmed out to send the contest into double overtime. Quinn finished with a game-high 26 points.
The Hoyas reeled off four straight wins after the Irish game. Then trouble came lurking. Georgetown ended the season losing four of their final six games to fall into that fifth seed. Granted, three of those losses came to NCAA Tournament-bound teams such as West Virginia, Marquette and Villanova. But the Hoyas must pick up the pieces quickly after the defeat to South Florida. Thompson III thinks the overall toughness of the conference, rated number two in the RPI to the Big Ten, will prepare his team for the league tournament and the Big Dance.
"I definitely think it prepares you," Thompson III said. "There is no doubt about it. I've said it before: I think our league is unique not because of the teams but because of the varying styles of play. You have teams that play fast. You have teams that play slow. You have teams that are deliberate in the half court and teams that are perimeter-oriented. Once you get into post-season, there is probably someone going to do something similar to what you've faced. It prepares you for the varying styles you'll face."
Georgetown has six players averaging eight points a game or more. Hibbert leads the Hoyas in points (11 PPG) and rebounds (six a contest). Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman, both 6'9" and extremely athletic, average double figures in points and can be tough matchups because of their versatility. It'll be a battle of strength on strength. Georgetown always brings the defense as they rank number one in that category in the Big East. Opposite that is Notre Dame being the second highest scoring team in the conference.