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Non-Conference Schedule Preview: Georgetown

The Hoyas will take on at least four High Major teams before Big East play.

Seton Hall v Georgetown Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images

It’s July, which means it’s a perfect time to declare the season of our favorite college basketball team dead in the water. That’s pretty much what all reactions to non-conference schedules are, right? I dropped my initial reactions on Twitter, check that out below if you like and if you don’t care (fair), let’s delve a little deeper here.

Ok, the season’s first game is against Coppin State on the 8th of November. I’m not going to mention dates for every single game here, but I think this one is significant since the Hoyas aren’t the last team in the country to get started like they were last year. Those three days felt like an eternity, so I’m glad they fixed that. Hopefully this time you don’t lose.

Coppin State isn’t anything special, though some digging finds that redshirt sophomore guard Nendah Tarke is electric. Just buzzer beaters for days.

They’re not expected to do much, but Juan Dixon left a memorable impression in his last game on the Hilltop, not really for all the right reasons.

Continuing with the cupcakes against Wisconsin Green Bay. They’re the first part of the Jamaica Classic, being the home game for the series. Nine of their guys are new, and they’re widely expected to be one of the worst ten teams in the country. Not much else to say here.

Gavitt Tip-Off Games:

Northwestern in Capital One Arena as a part of the Gavitt Tip-Off Games is next. This might just be the marquee non-conference home game. That’s pretty sad. Boo Buie is an excellent college basketball name and the dude just gets buckets. They lose two of their top four scorers from a team that was 7-13 in Big Ten play, with Pete Nance transferring to UNC and Ryan Young transferring to Duke. From teammates to rivals, that’s somewhat cool.

In games decided by 10 or fewer points, Northwestern was 5-12, which is just remarkably poor. They just couldn’t win close games. In some of these games, they weren’t all that competitive until a late comeback (sound familiar?), but in others, the win probability graph is just tragic.

They’re not expected to be any good next season. Since their first NCAA tournament bid in 2017, Northwestern hasn’t finished a season above .500 and hasn't finished above 10th in the Big Ten. Losing Pete Nance to UNC just makes this team much worse.

Jamaica Classic:

Two games here, the first one is expected to be against Loyola Marymount. Revenge game from the last Jamaica Classic where James Batemon torched the Hoyas, going for 27 points and 8 rebounds in a 65-52 win for the Lions. Don’t worry Hoya fans, he’s long gone. The Hoyas were up 26-21 at the half, before an atrocious second half where Loyola Marymount outscored the Hoyas 44-26. If I remember that game correctly, the floor was very slick and players were sliding around, but alas the past is the past and as I always say, revenge is a dish best served four years and two days later.

Then the Hoyas will face either Wake Forest or La Salle. For the fans’ sake, you hope to draw Wake here, as they’re probably the team that would put you closer to the tournament picture. Wake does lose quite a bit from last year’s team, losing four of their five leading scorers. Daivien Williamson leads the new-look Demon Deacons, a fifth-year senior who followed coach Forbes from East Tennessee State to Winston Salem, NC. They bring in a couple of transfers headlined by Fairfield transfer Jao Ituka and Florida transfer Tyree Appleby who averaged 15.3 and 10.9PPG, respectively.

If it’s La Salle that the Hoyas meet in this second game, they’re expected to be pretty alright. Newly hired Head Coach Fran Dunphy leads a pretty solid group. Even as a younger hoops fan, it feels weird writing that the iconic Head Coach takes over his third Big Five program, but I’ll get used to it. Dunphy leads a decent group headlined by the guard trio of Josh Nickelberry, Khalil Brantley, and Jhamir Brickus. He rounds out this roster with the Drame twins, the transfers from the St. Peter’s team that stole all of our hearts in March.

Return to DC:

After getting back from Jamaica, the Hoyas take on both American and UMBC. Neither of these teams has particularly high expectations, both are expected to finish in the 300s next year. Georgetown beat both pretty comfortably last year, so hopefully, that continues here.

This is one of the few highlights from last season, just let me have it.

Big East-Big 12 Battle:

The next game is the Big East-Big 12 Battle against Texas Tech. This game is an absolute matchup nightmare for the Hoyas. The Hoyas have to travel to Lubbock to take on the Red Raiders who are for sure going to be an elite defensive team under second-year Head Coach Mark Adams. Adams did a great job in year one, this team surprised people all year and ended up making the Sweet 16 last year.

The Red Raiders lose a ton of talent, however, losing six of their top seven scorers including their top three scorers from a year ago. Coach Adams brings in a top 20 recruiting class headlined by top 50 four-star Elijah Fisher and an elite transfer class headlined by Utah Valley transfer Fardaws Aimaq and Oklahoma and Oregon transfer Devion Harmon.

Aimaq is one of the best transfers in the country, after a season where he finished top 50 nationally in scoring and as the second leading rebounder in the country, only behind National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe. The Field of 68 ranked Aimaq as the eighth-best transfer in the country and the frontcourt pairing of him and returning big man Kevin Obanor as the sixth-best frontcourt in the country. The Hoyas look to be pretty thin up front with Akok Akok being the only true four-man on the roster.

Given that Texas Tech is a slower-paced, defensive-minded team, an archetype that the Hoyas have struggled with in the Ewing era, you have what I believe to be a matchup nightmare. Though, since Texas Tech is expected to be a Top 25 team next year, this will profile as a quadrant one A game, meaning you pretty much have nothing to lose. Keep this game close and the team metrics will improve. As long as this game is competitive, it will benefit the Hoyas in some way.

The Rest:

The next game for the Hoyas is a home game against South Carolina. The Gamecocks have made headlines in recent days with the signing of five-star recruit GG Jackson, who also reclassed from the 2023 class to play for the Gamecocks this year. Jackson will be the team's best player and this is a massive acquisition for new Head Coach Lamont Paris. Jackson was widely regarded as the top recruit in the 2023 class, so bringing him on campus is huge.

The rest of the roster leaves a ton to be desired, however. Before getting Jackson, this roster was considered the worst Power 6 (Big East plus Power Five) roster in the country. Ohio State transfer Meechie Johnson was set to lead a team that lost just about everyone after Coach Frank Martin was fired. Getting someone like Jackson should keep them competitive, but South Carolina looks to be a bottom-tier SEC team.

The Hoyas next take on the Siena Saints in Capital One Arena, a team the Hoyas had no trouble with last year. This Siena team was rattled with injuries last season but came together to end the season on a higher note after starting the season 0-4, with all four of those losses being by 15+. They’re not expected to be all that good next year but could stay afloat in a decent MAAC.

Lastly, the Hoyas travel to the newly renames JMA Wireless Dome to take on Syracuse. I could do that thing I’ve done where I look deeper into the roster, but it’s Syracuse, Hoya fans will be familiar enough with this group. Joe Girard, aka Boeheim’s long-lost son, leads a Syracuse team that will run the same 2-3 zone and be as hateable as always. Hoyas by a million.

One interesting thing to note about this Syracuse game though is that with it being on December 10th, it will be the last non-conference game the Hoyas play. The Big East seems to be moving the start of conference games up to more properly fit in with the 20-game conference schedule. It’s an interesting thing to note, as last season the Hoyas played TCU on December 18th. It looks like the Big East could have a couple of non-conference games before Winter Break, which should make the season easier on the teams. More rest is a good thing.

Overall Thoughts:

This is a pretty soft schedule. You have five cupcakes, a pretty weak MTE and you play some of the worst high major teams in the country. Not to mention, the biggest home games are those awful high major teams. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you have to beat NCAA Tournament teams to make the tournament, and I only see one on this schedule in what I think is a horrible matchup, on the road.

I don’t think a single tournament team will travel to Capital One Arena until the Big East schedule hits, and that’s not good. What are the fans supposed to flock to the arena for? Does this schedule do anything to make the arena not look empty for the first half of the season?

Here are some other takes from across the Twittersphere:

I think this team has NCAA Tournament-level talent and this schedule might not allow them to show that. There’s a decent chance that if this team went 10-10 in conference play, they could miss the tournament which is all on the scheduling. Having one NCAA Tournament-level team on the non-conference schedule is just awful scheduling. Hopefully, I’m wrong here (it’s happened before) and one of these teams overperforms expectations, after losing to the Hoyas of course.