Hoyas open play in Philadelphia on Friday
The Leo O'Donovan Dining Hall at Georgetown was as packed and boisterous as it has been in more than half a decade as the Hoyas' headquarters on Selection Sunday.
But the DJ, pep band, overflowing crowd and announcement of the program's first No. 2 seed since 2008 hardly sparked a reaction in junior guard Markel Starks.
"Who are we playing?" said a straight-faced Starks, who was prepared to stay that way for the next five days before the Hoyas face upstart No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast in Philadelphia on Friday. "I think the focus level has to be there."
The Hoyas (25-6) were rewarded for a share of the Big East regular-season title after an 0-2 start in conference play and the loss of sophomore forward Greg Whittington to academic ineligibility. They earned both a high seed and the closest geographical location possible for the first weekend of the tournament.
Should they advance to the Sweet 16, the Hoyas could be in a line for a rematch against No. 3 Florida -- a full 40-minute game -- at the South Region at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Gators and Hoyas abandoned their season opener aboard the USS Bataan in November at halftime because of condensation on the court.
The Eagles (24-10) earned their way into the tournament with an Atlantic Sun title in their second year of Division I postseason eligibility. But a program that has been in existence overall for just 11 years -- two years longer than John Thompson III has been coach at Georgetown -- isn't to be taken lightly. It upset Miami 63-51 and has been battle tested against fellow NCAA tournament teams Virginia Commonwealth and Duke. The Eagles won 12 of their last 14 games, only slightly less impressive than Georgetown's 13 out of 15.
The burden of expectation falls on the Hoyas, who haven't reached the Sweet 16 since 2007.
"I don't think this group is either upset or demoralized because of an overtime loss to Syracuse in the Big East tournament or so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about going into the NCAA tournament," Thompson said. "As it relates to our mindset, we're probably in a very good place."