Georgetown got better-than-expected news on Selection Sunday. Following on Saturday’s news that Chris Wright will play in the NCAA tournament, the Hoyas got word on Sunday that they have been seeded sixth in the Southwest Region of the NCAA Tournament, and will play Friday at 9:45 p.m. EDT. Their opponent is still to be determined: thanks to the field’s expansion to 68 teams, Georgetown plays the winner of Virginia Commonwealth (who every yak on ESPN seems to think shouldn’t be in at all) and Southern California. Those two teams will square off on Wednesday night at 9 pm in Dayton, Ohio, for the right to play Georgetown on Friday; that game can be seen on truTV, assuming you have it.
Pre-announcement projections had the Hoyas as a seventh or eighth seed, so the Hoyas’ placement was welcome news. While the tournament selection committee’s process is perennially opaque, two explanations for Georgetown’s better-than-expected seed can be advanced: strength of schedule and injuries. As Ken Pomeroy explained on Slate, the committee leans heavily on the Ratings Percentage Index, or RPI, which is based largely on strength of schedule which, Pomeroy argues, is flawed. (For some reason, Pomeroy and Slate chose not to note that he has a ratings system that rivals the RPI, which a reader might find relevant to his criticisms of the RPI.) Georgetown’s SOS this year was second in the country, including 21 of its 31 games against fellow Tournament goers, and it ranks 13th in the RPI despite its horrendous play of late. The second explanation is that Georgetown’s (perhaps timely) announcement that Wright will play in the tourney led the committee to credit the Hoyas avec, rather than sans, Wright, and gave Georgetown a bump accordingly.
If Georgetown wins Friday, it will play either #3 seed Purdue or #14 seed St. Peter’s. The lower half of the slate in Chicago pits #2 seed Notre Dame against #15 seed Akron and #7 seed Texas A&M against #10 seed Florida State. The proximity of West Lafayette to Chicago likely means Purdue will enjoy a near home-court advantage throughout the weekend, while, in the other half, Notre Dame will have plenty of partisans, too. The regional semifinals and finals, which follow on the next weekend, will be played in San Antonio.
Georgetown is one of eleven Big East teams to gain entry into the tournament, the others being: in the East, #3 Syracuse, #9 Villanova, and #11 Marquette; in the West, #3 Connecticut, #5 West Virginia, and #6 Cincinnati; in the Southeast, #1 seed Pittsburgh, and #6 St. John’s; and with Georgetown in the Southwest, #2 Notre Dame and #4 Louisville. The tournament committee, while undoubtedly kind to the Hoyas, didn’t do the conference any favors. For example, should Marquette upset Xavier in the first round, it’ll play Syracuse, while Cincinnati and Connecticut are on a second-round collision course, too, ensuring a reduction of two Big East squads on the first weekend. Those second-round match-ups are unfortunately necessary, given the plethora of third, sixth, and eleventh seeds afforded Big East-ers. Other Hoya opponents scattered throughout the bracket include: in the West, #7 Temple, #11 Missouri, and #12 Memphis; and in the Southeast, #9 Old Dominion, #12 Utah State, #14 Wofford, and #16 UNC-Asheville.
Check back later in the week. Monday, we’ll take a look at other Big East tournament teams. Tuesday, we’ll look at how Georgetown matches up against each of its potential opponents. Wednesday, we’ll have a preview of VCU v. USC. Thursday, we’ll have a quick look at the other teams headed to Chicago. Friday, check here for a game preview.