Observations: Georgetown starts crucial stretch vs. Villanova

Saturday begins a huge eight-day stretch for Georgetown.

After starting out the year 6-5 the Hoyas have quietly won five of their last six games and John Thompson III’s squad can really change its national perception during its upcoming schedule.

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Georgetown will host Villanova on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, CBS and CBSSports.com) and then travel to Xavier and UConn back-to-back next week.

That’s three opportunities for the Hoyas to earn quality victories against teams that have enough talent to compete for their respective conference titles.

The best way to remedy bad losses is to earn marquee wins and that’s just what Georgetown has to hope to achieve over the next eight days.

The Hoyas dropped home games to Radford, UNC-Asheville, and Monmouth during the non-conference portion of their schedule and it’s imperative that they cash in on some of the chances they have in this upcoming stretch.

Andy Enfield’s “tweak” has changed USC: Jordan McLaughlin was recruited out of high school as the point guard that was going to be responsible for the Trojans’ turnaround.

Now he’s the 5-foot-11 guy who’s excelling off the ball.

Enfield’s decision to make Julian Jacobs (12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists) his primary floor general and McLaughlin his starting shooting guard is one of the major reasons why USC is currently 15-3 overall and 4-1 in Pac-12 play.

The sturdy Jacobs has been arguably the most improved player on the West Coast while McLaughlin has flourished since he’s been put into attack mode.

The sophomore has scored a combined 40 points in back-to-back wins against Arizona and UCLA all while averaging 16.4 points in five Pac-12 games.

The Trojans are off this weekend and next are on the road to face Oregon and Oregon State.

Iowa is a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten regular season title: The Hawkeyes dominated Michigan State from tip to finish on Thursday night in East Lansing and proved once again that they belong the in conversation with the Spartans, Purdue, and Maryland when people talk about the top teams in the Big Ten.

Fran McCaffery’s squad starts four seniors — Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, Jarrod Uthoff, and Adam Woodbury — along with a junior in Peter Jok who scored 23 points in last night’s 17-point win.

This team is seasoned, confident, and deceptively resilient.

Iowa could have folded after it blew a huge lead at Iowa State in early December, but the Hawkeyes instead have reeled off six consecutive wins including road victories at both Purdue and Michigan State.

This team has officially arrived as a Big Ten contender.

Iowa is 13-3 overall and 4-0 conference play heading into Sunday’s game against Michigan at home.

This Just In

  • George Washington’s Joe McDonald (eye) will not play Friday against Dayton, Colonials coach Mike Lonergan told CBS Sports.
  • Georgetown’s Marcus Derrickson (knee) will play Saturday against Villanova, according to Hoyas coach John Thompson III. Derrickson did not play Wednesday against St. John’s.

Jordan McLaughlin (USATSI)
USC’s Jordan McLaughlin has given the Trojans a spark. (USATSI)

This and That

  • West Virginia’s Jaysean Paige is averaging 17.5 points through his first four Big 12 games and is starting to look like a potential go-to scorer for the Mountaineers. Bob Huggins’ team is 15-1 overall and next travels to Oklahoma on Saturday. Paige scored 26 points in Monday’s win over top-ranked Kansas.
  • Duke is essentially playing with just six players in its rotation until Amile Jefferson comes back from a foot injury. “We have no subs,” coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after Wednesday night’s loss to Clemson. The Blue Devils’ seventh man is freshman Chase Jeter, but he’s been foul prone in limited action and picked up nine fouls in 12 minutes over his last two games.
  • Ohio State is no longer recruiting 2016 point guard Kobi Simmons, sources told CBS Sports on Thursday night. The five-star prospect will announce his college choice on Saturday. Arizona is the heavy favorite.
  • The upside of coaching at a difficult job in a power-five league is you’re always going to have opportunities to build an NCAA Tournament resume. Clemson entered 2016 with a 7-6 record, but has since won four straight games over Florida State, Syracuse, Louisville, and Duke. There’s not many teams in the ACC playing better basketball right now than the Tigers, who are 11-6 heading into Saturday’s game against Miami.
  • Purdue has all the requisites to be a contender for the Big Ten regular season title, but my biggest concern for this team long-term is its point guard play. The Boilermakers found lightning in a bottle last season when they had Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus as their starting point guard, but this year’s combination of Johnny Hill and P.J. Thompson doesn’t exactly move the needle. This position will ultimately define how far this group can go in the NCAA Tournament.
  • How poor has Iowa State been defensively recently? The Cyclones are giving up an average of 86.0 points in its first four Big 12 games — that’s much too high for a team hoping to earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Steve Prohm’s squad is 1-3 in league play and heads to Kansas State on Saturday.
  • Arkansas sharpshooter Dusty Hannahs may be the most underrated transfer in the country. The former Texas Tech guard is averaging 16.5 points for the Razorbacks while shooting 48.3 percent from 3-point range. Hannahs has already made 42 3-point shots this season after making 41 shots from deep in total during the 2014-15 season with the Red Raiders. The 6-5 guard has made 12-of-18 shots from long distance in his last two games.
  • Wichita State (11-6) has quietly won six straight games and nine of its last ten. The Shockers are finally healthy after battling a plethora of early season injuries and are now just starting to build some collective chemistry and momentum. Look for Gregg Marshall’s squad to continue to slice through the Missouri Valley like a chainsaw through butter for the rest of the regular season all while building more and more buzz as we get closer to the NCAA Tournament.
  • LSU is now 6-2 with both Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor in the lineup. Remember when people were saying this team would be lucky to make the postseason? The Tigers are currently 10-6 overall and next host Arkansas on Saturday in Baton Rouge. Johnny Jones’ team is 3-1 in SEC play.
  • VCU (12-5) has won seven straight games and has looked like a different team since it began conference play in the Atlantic 10. The Rams next travel to rival Richmond on Saturday. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

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