Georgetown - Syracuse Preview

FINAL BIG EAST MEETING OF G-TOWN/SYRACUSE LOOMS LARGE IN NATIONAL PICTURE

For about as long a basketball fans can remember, the Georgetown/Syracuse rivalry was something special. But, with Syracuse moving to the ACC after this season (get ready for Syracuse/Duke!), and the Big East crumbling before our eyes...we've come to the very last regular season meeting between these two as BIG EAST RIVALS in the storied Carrierdome.

There's still a regular season meeting on the final weekend at Georgetown. And, maybe these guys will lock up again in the Big East tournament. But...the atmosphere in the dome at Syracuse is always something special because of the layout and the crowd noise.

The history involved, and the fact that visiting Georgetown is ranked #11 in the AP poll while Syracuse is #8 made this a sure thing for expanded coverage here in the NOTEBOOK. Kentucky may be hosting ESPN's "GameDay," but the Wildcats are trending the wrong direction fast as they deal with the bubble. It's also BracketBuster Saturday...but that's an experiment that turned into a big bust. Today is all about Georgetown/Syracuse. Let's get to the numbers...

WON-LOST RECORDS
Georgetown: 20-4 (10-3 in the Big East)
Syracuse: 22-4 (10-3 in the Big East)

These two teams plus Marquette are currently in a three-way tie at the top of the conference. Louisville is one win back and still capable of sneaking away with the regular season crown. Georgetown has been the hotter of the two teams recently. Syracuse was supposed to be this good. Georgetown wasn't expected to be quite this dangerous. Great seasons by both teams in a year that's shown a lot of depth nationally.

COMPUTER RANKINGS
Georgetown: #14 with Sagarin, #19 with Pomeroy
Syracuse: #8 with Sagarin, #7 with Pomeroy

Jeff Sagarin of USA Today and college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy both agree with the polls, generally speaking, in their publicly available computer ratings. Syracuse is an Elite Eight caliber team...and any Elite Eight caliber team is capable of going the distance. Georgetown is in the neighborhood of a Sweet 16 team. If you're the type to weight recent form over a full season of results...then the Hoyas are definitely a Sweet 16 caliber team.

COMPUTER STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
Georgetown: #44 with Sagarin, #59 with Pomeroy
Syracuse: #49 with Sagarin, #47 with Pomeroy

Comparable schedule strengths for both teams, as each features a mix of challenges and creampuffs before conference play. If you're in the Big East, you're going to be battle tested. We don't see any concerns for either team based on their schedules to date, or any inherent pollution. Solid teams, solid but not overly grueling schedules.

WON-LOST RECORDS VS. SAGARIN'S TOP 50
Georgetown: 5-3
Syracuse: 5-3

Dead even here...with today's winner moving to a strong 6-3 while the other treads water at 5-4. No holes yet as we work through the data. A few pretenders have been exposed with the top 50 records. These guys may not quite be up to Indiana's caliber...but they're not pretenders.

JOE LUNARDI'S BRACKETOLOGY
Georgetown: projected #4 seed
Syracuse: projected #3 seed

Syracuse has been up high all year, and probably believes they deserve better than what Lunardi of ESPN is currently projecting. Georgetown has surged to a Sweet 16 seed...and has made a case for even better with their recent results. Could those flip-flop if Georgetown pulls off the road upset? Could those two plus Louisville all end up with seeds on the first three rungs? There's still a lot of drama to play out in these last few weeks of the regular season.

POMEROY'S ADJUSTED OFFENSE RANKINGS
Georgetown: #77
Syracuse: #12

Now we get to the chess match. Georgetown's biggest weakness is on offense. And, a ranking like that is actually a GLARING weakness by Dance standards. The Hoyas will likely run into a few teams with better offenses on neutral courts in March. That's going to be a big problem in nailbiters. Who's going to have less confidence than Georgetown when trying to score on a late possession? To the degree one of these teams might be a pretender in terms of the national championship, this is where Georgetown takes a hit.

POMEROY'S ADJUSTED DEFENSE RANKINGS
Georgetown: #8
Syracuse: #9

Great defenses here after you adjust for tempo and caliber of opposition. Syracuse does it with a zone that's easier to deal with the more you see it (remember that in the rematch at Georgetown in a couple of weeks). Defense wins championships...so both are contenders for the Big East title. The Hoyas will have to overcome their own sluggish offense if they're going to be cutting down any nets.

POMEROY'S ADJUSTED TEMPO RANKINGS
Georgetown: #297
Syracuse: #162

Syracuse is fairly average in pace, which will suit them well in March because they'll be able to deal with whatever comes up. You can't be taken out of your comfort zone if you're comfortable at all paces! Georgetown is very slow. Typically, the home team controls the tempo...so it might be worth thinking about an Over in this meeting, but an Under in the rematch. Another negative for the Hoyas is that they might run into a neutral site opponent that IS able to push them way out of their comfort zone. Or, they might run into a three-point buzzsaw that makes it impossible to catch up at a slow pace (the story behind some of their Dance losses in recent years).

BEST EXPECTATION
There's a lot to like about both teams. JIM HURLEY will be working with his New York area sources and his other Big East guys to find out what he needs to know about this game. It's possible that we have a big play here. But, it's also possible that this is a pass...but it sets up a big play in letdown spots next week. Our indicators are smiling on both teams at the moment. Between now and the end of the season, we could be on each of these teams a few times, only fading them in bad intangible spots. GREAT GAME!

It's a Saturday full of interesting matchups if not necessarily marquee blockbusters. Other games we're looking at for serious play include:

  • #16 New Mexico at #22 Colorado State (GOY in the Mountain West?)
  • #17 Marquette at Villanova (important in the Big East standings)
  • NC State at North Carolina (rivalry revenge!)
  • Creighton at St. Mary's (bracket buster blockbuster!)
  • Missouri at Kansas (ESPN's "GameDay" showcase in prime time)

You can purchase the best from Saturday's slate right here at the website with your credit card. Every dollar you win this weekend will multiply itself over several times between now and the tournaments. Smart players know how to pyramid their profits! If you have any questions about March Madness or full season NBA packages, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Representatives will be standing by during the day Saturday to take your call.

Back with you tomorrow to crunch the numbers in #4 Michigan State at #18 Ohio State, as the brutal Big 10 battles continue. Our indicator stats have proved particularly prescient in the Big 10 this season, particularly when you consider the role that tempo plays in those matchups. Big game previews will continue through the week culminating with a late week barrage that's going to be something to behold!

Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY in the NOTEBOOK so you know what's REALLY going on in the world of basketball. And, get THE BEST BETS ON THE BOARD from legendary handicapping juggernaut JIM HURLEY!

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