#4 Villanova Wildcats (17-2) vs. Georgetown Hoyas (11-8)
When: Monday, January 27, 9 p.m.
Where: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
Coverage: Fox Sports 1
Georgetown’s Previous Season Record: 25-7, Lost to Florida Gulf Coast in Opening Round of NCAA Tournament
Key Players for Georgetown: #4 D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (6-3, 218) So., G; #5 Markel Starks (6-1, 175) Sr., G; #3 Mikael Hopkins (6-9, 223) Jr., F
Scouting Report: What happened to Georgetown? Like Marquette, they were predicted to do very well in the new Big East. In fact, they were projected to finish in second, right behind Marquette. They’re definitely missing Otto Porter Jr., who was the star for the Hoyas last year and was the third overall pick in the NBA Draft. It all seems so distant now, as they are coming off of a loss to the Creighton Bluejays. The loss on Saturday night extended the Hoyas’ losing streak to four straight games. Adding to the plethora of problems for Georgetown, are the losses of Jabril Trawick and Josh Smith. Trawick suffered a broken jaw in the game against Providence and is not expected to return, he has missed the last five games. He started for the Hoyas in all the games before he sustained his injury. Smith is a hulking 6-foot-10, 350 pound center who had been facing academic issues until ultimately being suspended for the remainder of the season. Smith was the third highest scorer for Georgetown, averaging 11.5 points per game. The Hoyas have lost five of the previous six games during their absences. The one good thing going for Georgetown is the emergence of Sad Scott (pictured above) who has been spreading around the college basketball world.
So who’s holding up the sinking ship? D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. He has gone from being a role player off the bench as a freshman to now being a part of the starting five and the leading man. Smith-Rivera is fifth highest scorer in the Big East, with 17.5 points per game. He is an excellent scorer and can do so from virtually anywhere. He is shooting 45.4% from long range and can be streaky when it comes to shooting the three ball. There are nights where he can go 6 for 7 and then just go cold and shoot 1 for 5 from beyond the arc. He can also drive the ball inside and finish around the rim. On the defensive side of the ball, he is sound and is one of the better defenders for the Hoyas. Another name to know is Markel Starks. Starks has been an asset for Georgetown since he first stepped onto the court as a freshman. The three year starter has been improving steadily over the years and with every game. His experience has helped in his final campaign at Georgetown in facilitating the offense as a point guard. He is also the second highest scorer on the team, averaging 16.2 points per game. His efficiency and shooting percentages may have dropped despite the rise in points, but he has been able to get to the line at a much higher rate than in seasons past. Like Smith-Rivera, he is very adept at the line, leading the Hoyas in free throw shooting percentage (85.2%). With players going down and unable to play, Mikael Hopkins has been stepping his game up since Smith’s departure from the team. In the last six games, he has posted double digits in scoring three times, including a double-double in the Seton Hall game. He is a solid rebounder, and has done a fine job since being inserted into the starting rotation. He is not going to post mind-blowing numbers but he does his part and gets the job done with steady contributions. Keep an eye out for Nate Lubick, he is an experienced veteran who has been starting games since his freshman year. His numbers and stats may not show it, but he has been a key part for the Hoyas’ frontcourt.
Outlook: This Georgetown team is a far cry from what they were last year, and in the past. This is all in part due to off the court issues, injuries, and player departures. It started with Greg Whittington getting the boot very early in the season, and since then their problems have not ceased. Their recent slump is not helping either. They are coming off of a loss to Creighton, that seemed pretty one-sided. Villanova’s tough win over Marquette is what they needed to shake off the loss and get them back on track. Georgetown on the other hand, they’re still looking for something to break the spell. The losses of Trawick and Smith aren’t helping them. The undermanned Georgetown team will fall to the Wildcats. I see Villanova winning this one comfortably. Georgetown’s loss of size inside will permit JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu to do what they have to do inside. However, Villanova has never been one dimensional this season. James Bell is coming off of a great performance, and same goes for Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono who did the bulk of the scoring in the last game; where they combined for 70 points. The depth and the various able scorers that Villanova has will be the difference maker in this game.