How to Watch
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Streaming: FOX Sports Go
Location: McDonough Arena
Records: UConn 10-6 (7-6) | Georgetown 7-10 (5-7)
Spread: Georgetown +4
ATS Records: UConn (11-5) | Georgetown (10-7)
KenPom Rankings: UConn – 36 |Georgetown – 92
Two original members of the Big East reunited once again. The UConn Huskies take on the Georgetown Hoyas in what will be their 67th meeting all time. Currently, Georgetown holds a slight edge in the all-time series, 36-30. The Hoyas won their most recent matchup against the Huskies back in January 2017. Both programs are in much different places than anyone who grew up watching the old Big East is used to. UConn seems to be on the rise and Patrick Ewing is trying to turn the Hoyas around.
After what some might say was a mass exodus after last season, you have to give Ewing and the Hoyas credit. They have almost an entirely new roster in a season where practices and game opportunities have been limited. In fact, they rank 248th in “minutes continuity” (out of 357), a KenPom measure that examines returning minutes from the previous season. Yet the Hoyas have won their last 2 games and look like they are finally figuring things out late in the season. Can they build on this momentum and spoil an old rival’s NCAA tournament hopes? Or will UConn bounce back after a tough loss to Villanova?
The metrics favor UConn, but Georgetown beat Butler with relative ease and took command against Seton Hall for a nice win. According to KenPom, Georgetown comes into this game with the 8th ranked adjusted offense, and 10th ranked adjusted defense in the conference. Because the Hoyas struggled to get going early on this season, their numbers might not reflect their recent play. The Hoyas are led by seniors Jahvon Blair (16.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.5 APG) and Jamorko Pickett (12.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG). However, they have seen improved play over the course of the season from their underclassmen. Qudus Wahab (a recruit UConn fans might recall) is showing the benefits of learning from an all-timer like Patrick Ewing. Wahab is averaging 11.7 PPG and 8.1 RPG. Meanwhile, Dante Harris has shown tremendous growth during the season and has been a major reason for the Hoyas improvement the last two games. If they can keep it up, Georgetown has options now, and the Huskies will have to bring their defensive intensity.
The Huskies are coming off a loss to Villanova. UConn hung around for most of the game and James Bouknight put on a show early in the first half. Bouknight was slowed down though after landing awkwardly on his recently injured left elbow. The Huskies ran out of gas and scoring options as Villanova pulled away for an eight-point victory. UConn is living life on the bubble this season, but their path to the NCAA tournament seems clear. Win (not to say the only way they get in is to win out, but why take any chances?). The Huskies can’t get caught looking ahead; they need to focus on the game at hand and take care of business, one game at a time. The Huskies are favored in 3 of their remaining 4 regular season games (Kenpom favors Seton Hall slightly). However, beating Georgetown won’t be a walk in the park.
It’s easy to say that UConn just has to take care of business to remain in the NCAA tournament conversation, but the Huskies offense, or lack thereof, looms large. The defense has been great (for the most part) all season. The offense has been... less than stellar. I know Bouknight is still working his way back into game shape, but the offense is best when the team plays fast and the ball moves (not telling you anything you don’t know here). Against Villanova, Bouknight had the ball on an island far too often. Nova keyed in on him and took away driving lanes in the second half, granted his injury probably didn’t help. I would like to see Bouknight playing off the ball much more. It’s obviously harder for the entire defense to zoom in on a player when he is constantly on the move. In contrast, when Bouknight is dribbling at the top of the key, he has 5 pairs of eyes on him (probably more like 9 if you count the 4 other UConn players on the court just staring at him too — not a great offensive strategy). This team isn’t built for half court offense, and it shows. Can UConn get out and run?
In the beginning of the season this seemed like a sure-fire win for the Huskies when going over the schedule. However, the Hoyas are starting to click while UConn is still searching for answers on offense. If UConn is going to make the NCAA tournament, they need to adjust their offense accordingly. If not, Georgetown will be happy to spoil UConn’s NCAA tournament aspirations in their first season back in the Big East.