Nobody particularly cares for the Verizon Center. It is antiseptic, too bright, and too difficult to reach from campus to guarantee sufficient student sections on a consistent basis. Still, for what it is, the Georgetown Hoyas have managed to make a pretty good home court advantage out of it. Besides, the Hoya glory years were spent at the Capital Centre (later USAir Arena), a place with all the charms of Verizon Center but significantly farther away from campus in Landover, Maryland.
Since Georgetown moved into Verizon immediately after John Thompson Jr.'s last NCAA Tournament team in 1997, none of the classic Hoya Paranoia moments took place there. There have many a great moments in the Verizon Center. A couple of tight games with Louisville that ended up deciding the top Big East Tournament seed come to mind, as does 2013's final regular season game with Syracuse. But to find the greatest Hoya moment in Verizon Center history, we have to go back to 2006 and witness the literal rebirth of the Hoya program.
The last couple of years of the John Thompson Jr. era and the entirety of the Craig Esherick era were dark times for the Hoyas. John Thompson III took over in 2005 and the team immediately showed a spark, flirting with the Dance most of the year before settling for the NIT. Fifteen games into the 2006 season, the team was 11-4 but still looking for a defining win. Their best win was over a very mediocre Oregon Ducks team, and they had blown opportunities at Illinois, Connecticut, and West Virginia. But on Saturday, January 21, the Hoyas got a nationally televised shot at home against top ranked and undefeated Duke.
The Verizon Center was packed to the gills for this one, and the home-standing Hoyas came out hot. Working the Princeton offense to perfection getting several backdoor cuts, Georgetown led by 14 at the half. Brandon Bowman led the Hoyas with 23 points and Jeff Green had 18.
Duke pushed back in the second half, almost entirely behind J.J. Redick, who finished with a career high 41. They got the lead down to two with four minutes left, but the Hoyas pushed it to eight with 1:15 left on a layup by Jonathan Wallace and dunks by Bowman and Darrel Owens. Free throw misses gave Duke the ball down three, but with four seconds left Greg Paulus was stripped by Wallace, and Bowman fell on the ball for the win.
Georgetown fans stormed the floor. It was the first time Georgetown had beaten a number one team since 1985, when John Thompson Jr. mocked Lou Carnesecca's sweater.
Three days later, the Hoyas would go on to win a double overtime game at Notre Dame. They would also beat Cincinnati and Pitt on the way to finishing the regular season 19-8, 10-6. They would go onto the Sweet Sixteen, where they were the only team in Tournament to give Florida a game.
Since then, Georgetown has been a perennial contender. It all started with the rebirth of the Hoyas, January 21, 2006. The greatest Hoya moment in Verizon Center history.