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Georgetown ahead of the NCAAs: a few observations

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Sports,Campus Confidential,Craig Stouffer

A few thoughts on Georgetown after the Hoyas got a No. 2 seed and a second-round matchup with No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast in Philadelphia at 6:50 p.m. on Friday:

*The 58-55 overtime defeat to Syracuse in the Big East semifinals barely had a chance to sink in. Certainly, it was an emotional loss that was difficult to take for the greater Hoyas fan base. But it was hardly a killer blow to Georgetown’s season and really didn’t have any effect on their seeding for the NCAAs.

Certainly, Syracuse got the last laugh before the Big East history between the teams comes to a close, and it helped out its own NCAA tournament seeding hopes, enough to get a four seed, even if they have to travel to San Jose, Calif. The Orange victory Friday night on a massive stage at Madison Square Garden was memorable and steeped in nostalgia for the end of an era. It was also fairly decisive despite the close score. James Southerland and Trevor Cooney were clutch from distance, and C.J. Fair posterized Otto Porter Jr. in overtime.

But while overtime drains the emotion of fans, it gives Georgetown every reason to believe it had the victory in its grasp, and there may be a higher level of motivation as a result.

*The Syracuse game did have a couple of troubling signs. Porter wasn’t nearly assertive enough down the stretch. Sure, the Hoyas still lost by only three points, but that game was screaming for him to takeover, and he didn’t, even if he got to the foul line. In general, the team’s adjustments down the stretch never seemed to fit. Nate Lubick looked out of place on the wing, where Syracuse didn’t need to guard him, and there was a hesitance with a bunch of shots that Georgetown didn’t seem to have in the first two games against the Orange. Coach John Thompson III also didn’t get the best bang for his buck on timeouts either. Porter needed to get the ball in his hands earlier, and Markel Starks can’t get into foul trouble.

With all this in mind, it was a third game against a Syracuse team playing well in New York City and desperate not to get beaten again. Georgetown won’t face its biggest rival again this year unless they meet in the Final Four. The NCAA tournament is a different challenge, and in a many ways, a bigger one for a program that hasn’t gotten to the Sweet 16 since 2007.

*The scene at Leo O’Donovan dining hall was as festive as I’ve seen it, having covered the Hoyas since 2007, replete with a DJ, the pep band, player introductions, crowded as heck and even an autograph session with fans 8-10 deept while everyone waited for the NCAA selection show to begin. It’s a good show for recruits, too, almost as good as the No. 2 seed itself.

*Thompson made it clear that Greg Whittington isn’t going to play. It’s been pretty self-evident for a long time.

*Florida Gulf Coast has as big a reputation as any of the bottom dozen lowest seeds. The Eagles beat ACC-champion Miami in November, played a tough non-conference schedule and rolled through the Atlantic Sun. The plan is to find out more about them today.

*The rest of Georgetown’s South Regional bracket certainly offers up plenty of intrigue. The Hoyas could finally play a full 40-minute game against Florida – after their season-opener was cancelled at halftime due to condensation on the court on board the USS Bataan – or rematch with UCLA with former Bruin Josh Smith on their bench. Michigan, VCU, North Carolina and Kansas all could be potential Elite Eight matchups at Cowboys Stadium, a venue that always makes itself part of the story, too.

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