Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
#8 Georgetown (10-1, 1-0 Big East) looks to cap off the first week of Big East play with a second consecutive win over a Top 10 opponent when they host #3 Pittsburgh (13-0, 1-0 Big East) in a noon matinee. The Hoyas were sensational in their win at #2 Connecticut on Monday night, getting out to a 15-1 lead and never trailing in the eleven-point win. Early in the season John Thompson III’s young team was going about getting its “sea legs”, but even in their lone defeat (Tennessee in the Old Spice Classic) it was easy to see what this team is capable of once they figured things out. Monday night, in an effort led by freshman big man Greg Monroe, was a true example of why the two-time defending Big East champs shouldn’t be sold short in their quest for a third.
Sophomore point guard Chris Wright (13.5 ppg, 3.8 apg) is healthy after missing all but sixteen games last season, and he’s played quite well so far in replacing Jonathan Wallace. Wright has shown the athletic ability combined with a growing knowledge of what Coach Thompson wants from his floor general that gave many the idea that the McDonald’s All-American could unseat Wallace heading into last season. Also improved this season is junior forward DaJuan Summers, who currently leads the team in scoring with just over fourteen points per game.
And for all the talk about the impact that Monroe would have on the offensive end, which he has, he’s only the fourth-leading scorer on this team with Austin Freeman and the aforementioned Wright ranking ahead of the blue chip recruit. His matchup with Pitt’s DeJuan Blair will be one to watch given the fits Monroe game Hasheem Thabeet in Hartford on Monday night. While Blair is a bit more mobile than Thabeet, he’s by no means comfortable on the perimeter on defense either. Keep an eye on that aspect of this game. The one nagging concern for some regarding Georgetown is their lack of depth, but when they control the tempo it really doesn’t come into play (they ran out of gas against Tennessee, the only game to expose that weakness).
As for the Panthers, while they’ve got a very talented frontcourt with the likes of Blair (13.7 ppg, 12.1 rpg) and senior swingman Sam Young (4th in the Big East in scoring at 19.9 ppg), there’s no doubt who the “straw that stirs the drink” is. That would be floor general Levance Fields, a skilled leader who not only can set up teammates for good looks but also make an impact himself on the scoreboard. His outside shot has improved throughout his tenure on campus, and he’s gotten a little quicker as well. Fields is the one constant in the backcourt for head coach Jamie Dixon, supplemented by the likes of Brad Wannamaker, Jermaine Dixon and Ashton Gibbs to name a few.
The question for some regarding the Panthers: they’ve seldom been tested in their schedule thus far. But the one constant of this program over the years has been their effort on the defensive end, and that’s reason #1 why this has been the Big East’s most consistent program over the last eight years or so. Pittsburgh has improved some on the offensive end, but as was noted earlier you have to wonder if some of those scores were products of who they were playing as much as it was the Panthers’ improved execution. With two of the best defensive teams in the conference getting together for this one, it’ll come down to the little things like rebounding (Pitt is 2nd in the conference in rebound margin, Georgetown 13th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (Pitt is 2nd, Georgetown 13th). But with that all being said, home court advantage has to count for something, even in a league as tough at the top as this one. Georgetown pulls out a close one that should go down to the game’s final possession.
Winner: Georgetown Margin: 1-4 pts.
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About Raphielle Johnson
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.
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