Admittedly, the product on the diamond is not the same as the hardwood, making this rivalry matchup a little less tantalizing than a run-in at the Pavilion, but Georgetown versus Villanova is always interesting, whether its in basketball or tiddlywinks. This weekend, baseball is the game of choice, as the Hoyas (14-14, 1-2 Big East) and the Wildcats (12-15, 0-0) attempt to put some crooked numbers in the win column. Here are three things to watch.
1. Proving ground
This is an important series for Villanova, which has been the laughingstock of Big East baseball, which is saying something, considering most of the Division I baseball world chooses to ignore the league. That's right, if you are new to Big East baseball, the Wildcats are not the same dominant force that they are in basketball. However, the 'Cats may be in the midst of a revival, even if it is a minor one. They enter their first Big East series with a record of 12-15. Is that good? Of course not, but it is a much better pace than the last two seasons, when they finished 14-40 and 16-34, respectively. Getting off to a fast start with a strong series against Georgetown could, at the very least, go a long way in changing the perception of the program.
2. Do numbers lie?
What if I told you a team was among the top two in a conference in batting average, slugging, on-base percentage, runs scored and ERA? Would you think they'd be a major factor in said conference? Or would you think I was putting together the worst pitch for a 30 for 30 ever? Well the answer is neither. Georgetown is second in the league in all those categories (.278/.358/.366, 150 runs scored, 3.72 ERA), yet it has only managed to claw its way to .500 on the season (14-14). The Hoyas did pull a stunning upset in their first Big East series, topping Creighton last weekend in the opener of the weekend, but they then succumbed to defeat in the next two games, although they were only outscored 8-5 combined in those games.
So which team is Georgetown? The hard-hitting team with enough pitching to play with the league's best or a mediocre squad with good numbers and little else? The obvious answer is the latter, but the Hoyas have a bit more life than might be expected.
3. Power surplus (kind of)
This contest, believe it or not, features the two home run leaders in the Big East, a conference devoid of a whole lot in the power department. Georgetown's Nick Collins and Villanova's Max Beermann have each swatted four home runs this season, which is tied for the league lead and is as many as Creighton has hit as a team.
It is quite possible that Collins is the best hitter in the Big East. While St. John's Robbie Knightes, Butler's Garrett Christman and Creighton's Reagan Fowler all have legitimate claims to the throne, no other player in the conference has blended together such a mix of average and power. Collins (.368/.433/.544) is second in the Big East in batting average and the league-leader in slugging percentage and hits. Beermann (.236/.319/.462) has far inferior slash numbers, but he has been the better run producer, driving in 23 runs to Collins' 16.