(3) Georgetown vs. (14) Belmont: Midwest Region
Georgetown 23-8, 12-6 Big East (At large)
Belmont 27-7, 16-2 A-Sun (Regular-season and Conference Tournament Champions)
Time: 3:10 p.m. Friday
Location: Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio
Winner will face: (6) San Diego State or (11) N.C. State, Sunday
Georgetown No. 15 AP; No. 15 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Line: Georgetown -4 (O/U 133)
Players to Watch
Georgetown: G Jason Clark, 6-2 Sr. (13.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 47.3% FG); C Henry Sims, 6-10 Sr. (11.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.5 apg); F Otto Porter, 6-8 Fr. (9.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 51.8% FG). After a disappointing first three seasons, Sims has been great during his senior year – and he saved his best for last. In a 72-70 double-overtime loss to Cincinnati in the Big East Tournament, Sims had 22 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks and made layup at the buzzer to send the game into the second overtime.
Belmont: G Kerron Johnson, 6-1 Jr. (14.1 ppg, 5.2 apg, 52.6% FG); G Drew Hanlen, 5-11 Sr. (10.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 48.1% 3s); C Scott Saunders, 6-10 Sr. (10.2 ppg, 5 rpg, 54.8% FG). Hanlen, who is second in the nation in 3-point percentage, was named first-team All-Atlantic Sun and is a 3-time Academic All-American.
Why Each Team Dangerous
Georgetown: With the improvement of Sims and the emergence of Porter, Georgetown has a lot of offensive options. Four different Hoyas average between 9.5 and 13.9 points per game. The Hoyas are shooting 46.3 percent from the floor while scoring 69 points per game. And Georgetown is even better on defense. It has held opponents to 38.7 percent from the floor and 27 percent from deep. The Hoyas have a plus-4.7 rebounding margin.
Belmont: The Bruins dominated the Atlantic Sun and they roll into the tournament having won 14 straight. They also have a 1-point loss at Duke that should give them confidence when they go up against teams from Power 6 conferences. Belmont is fourth in the nation at 81.5 points per game. It shoots 48.4 percent from the field (13th nationally), 37.8 percent from 3 (36th in the country) and 73.6 percent from the foul line (41st in the nation). The Bruins’ 299 3-pointers made is second in the country. Six Bruins average 8.5 points or more.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
Georgetown: Georgetown has been blown out in the first round of the last two NCAA Tournaments by lower seeds. That will have to be on their minds on Friday afternoon. While a lot of different Hoyas can score, they are far from explosive. They shoot just 34.7 percent from the 3-point and they have made just 173 3-pointers. The Hoyas have a negative turnover margin and just a 13.7-to-12.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. If the game is on the line, the Hoyas struggled from the free throw line, hitting just 69.7 percent. Only two Georgetown regulars shoot over 71 percent from the charity stripe.
Belmont: Belmont struggles on defense at times. It gives up 67.3 points per game, 42.4 percent from the field and 33.8 from the 3-point line. In a 97-81 loss to Memphis on Nov. 15, the Tigers scored 51 second-half points and shot 58.6 percent from the field. That’s a Memphis team that was beaten soundly by the Hoyas. Belmont is a decent rebounding team, but gets just 11.4 offensive boards per contest.
The Bottom Line: Could go either way. It makes me hesitate because all of the money is coming in on the Bruins, but Georgetown’s history could catch up with it.
The Pick: Belmont 69, Georgetown 67
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 198-150-6 (Through Tuesday, March 14)