Georgetown’s loss to UConn hurts, but the Hoyas are far from dead

Georgetown’s hopes for the NCAA Tournament took their latest darkening twist on Saturday afternoon.

The Hoyas, who are now 12-8 and tumbling out of every major-metric’s top 50, fell 68-62 against a 14-5 UConn team that’s still playing a tad shy of its potential, but is looking NCAA Tournament-good nonetheless. Our evaluations and longer thoughts on UConn will come in the next two weeks. Kevin Ollie’s team has a home game against Cincinnati next, then road tilts at UCF and Memphis. If the Huskies win all of those games, they’ll be putting themselves in a spot for a nice seed — and will possibly be challenging SMU as kings of the conference.

If you’re curious, the Huskies and Ponies play on Feb. 13 (at UConn) and March 3 (at SMU). Both games should be must-watch.

But let’s deal with the Hoyas, one of the nation’s must frustrating teams. That’s due in part to their talent and promise. This is a group that’s mostly failed to rub up against expectations. Coming into the season, Georgetown was considered by many to be the second-best team in the conference (Nova being No. 1). Even if not that, you probably could not have found one reasonable person that would have put the Hoyas outside the top four.

Yet this team has lost games to Radford, Monmouth, UNC Asheville and Creighton. The best wins have come against Wisconsin, Syracuse and Xavier. John Thompson III’s club is a mystery. That 81-72 win at Xavier earlier this week is, frankly, gargantuan. Without it, Georgetown would not even be in the conversation for an at-large bid.

Amid all this, Georgetown is a 5-2 team in the Big East. And remember, the UConn game was not a league game. It still felt like a Big East content, but oh well. (Glad to say these teams will play against next season, in Washington, D.C.) The next two games comes at home against Providence and Creighton. They would be huge wins for this team. Georgetown’s record isn’t inspiring, but given what still remains in February and March, of course this squad is far from done. It has to win its home games — period.

I’ll note that Georgetown was an underdog on Saturday; it was expected to lose in Hartford. Nevertheless, the Hoyas are not pacing themselves to reach the NCAAs if they play out the season of the season winning the games they should and losing the games they should. At this point, it’s impossible to say this group is a top-three team in the conference, and going forward, it can’t afford to lose more than three or four games before we get to the Big East tournament.

It also can’t keep fouling. Georgetown is putting opponents on the line to the tune of a 45.7 free-throw attempt rate. That’s abnormally high. UConn took 36 foul shots against the Hoyas. Georgetown watched UConn shoot 4 for 21 in the second half and still couldn’t snag the win.

It’s going to be interesting from here on out. Was the Xavier win a total aberration, or does this team have capability of stealing a win at Providence, or stealing a win at Butler, or stealing a win at Villanova? Those games still remain on the schedule, and if we’re to see the vexing Hoyas stay relevant into March, they’ll have to win at least one of those games.

We are still trying to figure out what kind of team Georgetown is. (USATSI)

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