Tunnel Vision: Hoyas grasp Big East Tourney stakes

Tunnel Vision: Hoyas grasp Big East Tourney stakes
March 11, 2014, 10:30 pm
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The Georgetown Hoyas have a singular purpose this week in New York.

"We're going to win," coach John Thompson III said, referring to the Big East Tournament, which tips on Wednesday.

That statement from Thompson isn't Joe Namath-esque boast, but rather stating the agenda. Following Saturday's regular season finale loss at Villanova, winning the second conference tournament under Thompson might be required for an NCAA Tournament berth.

Actually, the situation shouldn't be win-it-all-or-bust. The Hoyas need victories, just maybe not the four in four days required for the automatic berth. CollegeBasketballTalk's latest bracket projection has Georgetown among the first five outside the Field of 68.

Entering Madison Square Garden as the seventh seed, the Hoyas (17-13, 8-10) face No. 10 DePaul (11-20, 3-15) at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Georgetown swept the home and away series. The winner faces No. 2 Creighton on Thursday. Pick up a second win in nine days over the McDermott's...sorry, over the Bluejays would help the situation significantly. Should they advance to the semifinals, the Hoyas would meet either Xavier or Marquette.

[MORE: Hoyas: Starks, Smith-Rivera selected All-Big East]

Losing to the Blue Demons would end any hopes. For now - especially considering the semi-mystery nature of how NCAA Tournament selection committee makes its at-large decisions in a given season -, hope remains.

"I don't profess to understand everything that the committee looks at," Thompson said on Monday before the Hoyas trekked up to prepare for the first version of the new Big East Tournament. "I think pre-New York, we've done what they've asked us to do."

The Hoyas haven't needed to talk up their résumé in recent years. Thompson continued.

"Our strength of schedule right now is No. 10 in the country. That's things we can control, that's by design. We knew that there would be a little bit of uncertainty with the new league so we put together that schedule."

Georgetown defeated Kansas State and VCU in the Puerto Rico Tip-off, Michigan State at MSG on Super Bowl weekend and lost to Oregon and Kansas. All those teams are locks or likely entrants in the NCAA Tournament. VCU and Michigan State were ranked in the top 10.

Along with those non-conference wins, the Hoyas also have RPI top 50 wins over Creighton and Xavier.

"We have five wins against top 50 teams, we have three wins against top 10 teams," Thompson said. "Hopefully, when [the committee] looks at our body of work, regardless of what happens in New York - and we're going to New York to win.

"If you win, there doesn't have to be a conversation. If you look at the body of work, hopefully we are very much in the conversation."

The coach didn't get into the negative stuff. Why would he. Georgetown has a bunch of losses, some of them unsightly. Before defeating VCU and Kansas State, the Hoyas fell to a Northeastern squad that would finish the season 11-21. In conference, Georgetown lost twice to Seton Hall. The Pirates won six Big East games this season.

One of those Seton Hall setbacks came during the stretch without guard Jabril Trawick, who missed five games with a broken jaw. The Hoyas went 1-4 in that stretch. With Trawick back in the lineup, Georgetown rebounded for a 6-4 finish including some of those notable wins plus triumphs over fellow bubble squads Xavier and Providence.

The committee supposedly factors in such lineup discrepancies. Whether that happens or not, Georgetown understand there is only one goal this week in New York.

"That's that only thing we can focus on," Trawick said, "winning the tournament."

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