One of the first things I do each March when the NCAA Tournament brackets are released — after picking all of the top seeds to advance, of course — is find the Georgetown Hoyas on the sheet and pencil their opponent into the next round. When the bright lights come on and opposing teams match the Hoyas’ effort level, Georgetown breaks down.
Today’s whipping serves as a classic example of why Georgetown can’t be trusted in March. Yes, Allen Fieldhouse is an incredibly difficult place to play, much less win. The Kansas Jayhawks have one of the best home-court advantages in the entire country, and when fragile teams show up in Lawrence to play the Jayhawks, those teams almost always leave town broken.
The Hoyas didn’t just break today in their 86-64 loss to Kansas. They were blown into smithereens, and now I wonder if this team has the fortitude to come back and win enough games to make its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in eight years. The reformed Big East Conference doesn’t have anywhere near the star power of the old conference, so the Hoyas may not earn enough marquee wins to earn an invite to the Big Dance this season.
I sincerely hope the Hoyas pull it together and make it into March Madness again this year, just so I can get my annual wave of satisfaction that comes from seeing them lose. The satisfaction doesn’t stem from some deep-rooted disdain for Georgetown’s program; rather, the Hoyas are usually one of the shining examples of a program that is run ‘the right way’ — Greg Whittington not included — in a time that most teams look for a quick and easy route to success.
Georgetown is almost always a trendy pick to advance deep into March. The Hoyas play tough, disciplined basketball for most of the season. Their Princeton-style offense, which is predicated upon finesse and anticipation, can eat opponents alive. It can also eat the Hoyas alive if they hesitate for a split second because they rarely have more than one player that can bail the offense out when the shot clock winds down. Otto Porter, Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green, and Greg Monroe have all taken turns carrying the team throughout the course of the regular season only to appear worn down in March when other teams match the Hoyas’ intensity.
The stark reality is that no matter how good Georgetown appears to be throughout the season it doesn’t play well once the NCAA Tournament begins. No one can forget the helpless looks emanating from coach John Thompson III and his players as the second-seeded Hoyas saw Florida Gulf Coast dunk over, on, around and through them while the nation shrieked with delight.
This team just doesn’t know how to win tournament games. The lone exception was in 2007 when the Hoyas made it to the Final Four, but that can be discounted when considering that even the Rick Barnes-led Texas Longhorns made a Final Four in 2003.
In the past five years, Georgetown has a paltry 2-5 record in the NCAA Tournament. That record is even more egregious when considering that Georgetown had been given a two-seed twice, a three-seed twice, and a six-seed once. This team will be hard-pressed to earn anything better than a six-seed, assuming it can even manage to win enough games to make the 2014 NCAA Tournament.