Georgetown and Creighton, who are both coming off losses against unranked tams, will face each other at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. Whet Smith, a Georgetown beat writer for BECB, examines Georgetown's next matchup against Creighton in a Q&A he completed with me. Check out some of his coverage of the Hoyas including an analysis of Georgetown's defense.
-Do you think Georgetown will make March Madness, and if so, what will the team have to accomplish in the remainder of their season in order to do this?
A: If by March Madness you mean make me mad in March by flaming out of the NIT, most definitely. Otherwise, no. The team has had some good moments this year, but overall the performance has been just a bit below tournament level and I think our current standing is pretty fair. The real killers are a losing record in conference play and nothing even approaching a good win in a true road game. It is still possible to get in as an at large, but I think that will require three more victories, not counting any win in the First Round of the Big East Tournament. That would mean at least two of those wins would come against Creighton/Villanova, and I think that would do it. But that isn't likely.
-Markel Starks has been having a great season this year, do you think he will have success against Creighton, a team that has a pretty good defense?
A: Starks is having a good season, but I think there is at least some disappointment that it hasn't been better. Most notably, his shooting from threes has tanked to 32% this year down from 42% last year. Part of that is obviously teams keying on him and Smith-Rivera, but it's more than that and been the driving factor behind Georgetown's poor three shooting all year. Creighton isn't the most ferocious team on defense but they plug up the Hoyas pretty well in Omaha. Starks and DSR got theirs, but the rest of the team was terrible. That's been a running theme all year. Jabril Trawick has been playing very well for Georgetown since returning from the broken jaw that kept him out of the first meeting. The Hoyas do best offensively when Starks, Smith-Rivera, and Trawick drive to the rim, and I think that's what they need to do again here, particularly against a Creighton team that doesn't have all that much defensive presence inside.
-Georgetown had the lead at the half in their last game and once Marquette took the lead, they were unable to come back in the game. What will Georgetown need to do in order to come out victorious against Creighton?
A: The Marquette game was lost in the first five minutes of the second half when Georgetown was in a scoring drought. Outside of that neither team could stop fouling or stop each other. The Hoyas have been devastated by foul trouble all year long. Not only do they give up as many free throws as any team in the nation, but none of their big guys can stay in the game for more than four or five minutes. Mikael Hopkins, Nate Lubick, and Moses Ayegba have gotten to the point where the frequency of their fouling would be comical if it wasn't so tragic. The end result is a weak interior defense and performance on the boards. Creighton is actually a decent matchup for them because they don't draw all that many fouls or get many offensive rebounds, which have been two huge weaknesses for Georgetown. Then again, Creighton gets so many shots by avoiding turnovers, and missed so few of them that it really doesn't matter what happens to the misses. I'm sort of fatalistic in the belief that if Creighton hits their threes they're just going to beat you. The best you can do is try to run them off threes into long twos. If they start getting easy baskets underneath it is going to be a long night for Georgetown.
-What is your prediction for the matchup between Creighton and Georgetown?
A: I'm actually not as pessimistic as I probably should be. Most of that comes from playing at home on senior night, and I gather the team will be motivated to send the popular Starks off with a win. I can see Georgetown getting off to a good start and it wouldn't surprise me if Georgetown continues its recent stretch of strong offensive play. But Georgetown has become a flat out bad team defensively, and Creighton isn't the team to help you fix that sort of problem. Expect a high intensity game with Georgetown constantly down by just a tiny bit, but unable to get enough stops to seize the lead, and Creighton to pull away at the end on fouls. Creighton 76, Georgetown 71.