The Stakes For Georgetown

Jonathan Daniel

The Hoyas are fighting not just to sneak into this year's NCAA Tournament, but to establish themselves as one of the truly elite programs in the nation.

The John Thompson III Era has mostly seen Georgetown perform at a very high level. In nine years, the Hoyas have only missed the NCAA Tournament twice, with one of them being his first year in D.C. And in those seven appearances, Georgetown has been a two-seed three times, a three-seed twice, and a six- and seven-seeds once each.  During this period, Georgetown has been the top seed at the Big East Tournament three times, winning the championship once and playing in the Championship Game two other times.  Coming into this season Georgetown had been ranked in the Top 10 of the polls for seven consecutive years.

This is the sort of performance that defines an elite program.

2013-14 has been, as it was anticipated to be, an off year. The departure of Otto Porter left a huge hole in all facets of the game that simply could not be filled. Several recruiting busts over the past few years left the team dangerously thin. Greg Whittington, expected to be perhaps the team’s best player, got kicked off the team. Heralded UCLA transfer Josh Smith had a roller coaster season ended by academic ineligibility just as BIG EAST play began.

Even so, Georgetown remains firmly on the bubble and very much in the discussion for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Stalwart performances from guards Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera have carried the too often weak play from the rest of the team. A mediocre 6-6 BIG EAST record and a loss to Northeastern have been balanced by neutral court wins over Kansas St., VCU, and Michigan St.

Despite everything, a tournament bid remains in sight.

Making the tournament this year would be an incredibly important event for the Georgetown program. A heralded recruiting class will arrive at Georgetown next fall, and that should lead to increased talent level for the Hoyas over the next few years.

Combined with the program’s established track record, there is every reason to believe that this season marks a bottoming out for the Hoyas. At least for the immediate future.

If Georgetown could make the tournament this year, while it is at its nadir of quality, it would establish the Hoyas as one of the rare basketball programs whose worst case scenario still involves an NCAA Tournament appearance. This may be the very definition of an elite program, and it would be the sort of thing that would have a huge impact on recruits going forward.

So the home stretch of this season involves nothing less than Georgetown’s identity as one of the blue chip basketball programs in the nation. It is quite ironic that it is up to such a mediocre bunch to establish the program’s greatness.

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