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Preview: Syracuse vs. Georgetown

Two long-time rivals meet at half-past high-noon in The Nation’s Capital.

NCAA Basketball: No.Carolina A&T at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

What was once a rivalry that defined what Big East basketball was all about is now a meeting between two east coast schools that strongly dislike each other. The Georgetown Hoyas (8-0) host the Syracuse Orange (8-1) in Washington D.C. on Saturday afternoon.

It’s the 93rd meeting between these two schools. Both teams played each other at least once a year from 1979-80 through 2012-13, coinciding with their mutual membership in the Big East. When Syracuse bolted for the ACC in 2013, the series was put on hold. The schools restarted the rivalry in 2015.

Syracuse holds the 49-43 all-time series advantage over Georgetown. However, the Hoyas have won the last two battles and four of the last five. Georgetown prevailed 79-72 in Washington in 2015 and 78-71 in Syracuse in 2016.

Major Keys

Time & Place: 12:30 PM ET, Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

TV: CBS (Spero Dedes, Clark Kellogg)

Radio: 106.7 WJFK-FM (Rich Chvotkin)

Gambling (via OddsShark): Syracuse opened as 2.5-point favorites. The Orange are 3-4 against the spread this season. Despite being undefeated, Georgetown is 1-6 against the spread so far this year.

About the Hoyas

The Hoyas have conquered eight previous opponents and final exams. They now look to remain undefeated against their long-time foe from upstate New York.

While Georgetown’s strength of schedule has left a bit to be desired, the Hoyas have had little trouble beating who was in front of them. They’re currently beating teams by 17.8 points per game, 16th in the nation according to Team Rankings.

The Hoyas also find themselves ranked within the top 60 in points scored (82.0, 55th nationally) and allowed (64.3, 42nd) per game, rebounds per game (41.4, 23rd), and assists per game (18.8, 13th).

Of course, Georgetown will be going up against Syracuse’s vaunted zone defense. Head coach Patrick Ewing feels the best way for his Hoyas to best that scheme is to play within themselves.

“We just got to play,” Ewing said during media availability earlier this week. “We want to play fast, they want to play slow. They have a zone that a lot of teams have trouble beating because of their size and the way that they cover a lot of ground. So, we have to do our best to try to find a way to take advantage of the things we do best”.

Junior big Jessie Govan has led the charge for Georgetown. He is averaging 20.6 points and 13.0 rebounds per game. His rebounding average has him tied for first nationally according to College Basketball Reference.

Fellow juniors Marcus Derrickson and Kaleb Johnson have also made big contributions. Derrickson averages 13.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Johnson averages 12.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game.

The Other Guys

After a middling 2016-17 campaign, Syracuse has shot out of the gate with a 8-1 record. Their lone loss was a 76-60 defeat to Kansas on Dec. 2 at the Hoophall Invitational in Miami.

The Orange trot out one of the tallest lineups in the country, with 7’2” Pascal Chukwu serving as the centerpiece. This year, facing the zone will be particularly difficult for Georgetown. It’s the reason why the Orange have allowed the 17th fewest points per game in the nation at 61.4 points per game. Syracuse has also pulled down the 13th-most rebounds per game in the country (42.1 per game).

But it’s the backcourt that has served as the offensive engine. Guards Tyus Battle and Franklin Howard account for 48.9 percent of the team’s total points. Battle averages a team-high 20.7 points per game. Howard backs him up with 14.7 points and 6.0 assists per game. Freshman forward Oshae Brissett is chipping in 13.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.