Georgetown's non-conference schedule this year has improved compared to the 2013-14 season. One of the most difficult tests they will encounter is a December 10th date with the Kansas Jayhawks - luckily for Georgetown - at home.
Coach John Thompson III’s team was just 2-9 on the road last year, including an 88-64 blowout loss to the Jayhawks in Lawrence. This year, however, according to ESPN, the Hoyas have one of the top-10 recruiting classes in the nation and the best in the Big East, just ahead of Seton Hall. The class is led by freshmen power forward Isaac Copeland in addition to freshman forwards L. J. Peak and Paul White. They join veteran guard D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera on a much-improved Hoyas team that looks to not only win the Big East, but get back to the NCAA Tournament.
For this matchup in DC, Hoyas’ fans might be thinking, "well at least Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are gone, so they won't be as good."
Not to be outdone, the Jayhawks boast the fifth-best recruiting class in the nation, led by power forward and top-5 overall recruit Cliff Alexander. The addition of small forward Kelly Oubre should also help to make Kansas very stout again this season.
As far as the game is concerned, we will have an idea of what these top recruits can do in their young college careers by the time this game tips off. A key in this matchup will be Kansas' Wayne Seldon Jr. and Perry Ellis, returning for their sophomore and junior seasons, respectively. Their veteran leadership and experience could be a major factor in a game that will showcase the freshman talent on both teams.
Unless a freshman on either team really starts to put the team on their back, this game will come down to the veterans. Smith-Rivera have a chance to really shine in this game, just like he did when Georgetown knocked off Michigan State at Madison Square Garden last season. In Georgetown’s most memorable win last year, Smith-Rivera finished with 12 points and eight boards in the 64-60 upset over the Spartans.
Two big improvements that need to be made by Georgetown this season are their ability to score and rebound. The Hoyas ranked an unacceptable 202nd in scoring and 241st in rebounding last year. With the talent they have brought in, that's likely to change. But with the loss of guard Markel Starks, they may struggle at the onset. For Georgetown to improve from last year, fixing their overall play defensively will be important as well. They finished 123rd in the nation in defense and struggled on the glass as well, ranking 212th in defensive rebounding. With the influx of power forward talent, these numbers all should improve and so will their chances to knock off Kansas.
For the Jayhawks, it's all about passing the torch. Wiggins and Embiid led one of the top 10 teams in the country to the NCAA Tournament last year, but without Embiid they were upset by a physical Stanford team. Kansas will have another title contender in Lawrence and they are looking to defend their Big 12 title. With a talented incoming class, Kansas can certainly get impressive wins outside of conference. Traveling up to the Verizon Center and knocking off a revamped Georgetown team would give this young team confidence before diving into conference play. Kansas will be excited for the rematch.
Georgetown is going to come out hungry this season as they look to right the wrongs they committed a year ago. They should be ready for this matchup and fans will be ready to rock the Verizon Center when the Jayhawks come to town. With all that said, Kansas will likely be the favorites in this game unless they stumble out of the gate. Coach Bill Self’s team will be ready, but do not be surprised if this one is tied going into the final few minutes.
Whichever team is able to win this one will add a nice win to their tournament resume, but the way things are shaping up for both teams, this could be the first of two meetings with a second matchup possibly coming in March.