LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Pregame thoughts from Freedom Hall:
There are 14 NBA scouts credentialed for tonight’s Georgetown-Louisville game, most of them here to see the strongman contest between two very good big men: Greg Monroe of the Hoyas and Samardo Samuels of the Cardinals. Monroe is averaging 15.7 points, 9. 4 rebounds and also leads the team in assists and blocked shots. Samuels is averaging 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and has been wearing out a trail to the foul line in recent games. Whichever star sophomore plays best tonight could well lead his team to victory.
Louisville (9-5) is ahead of Georgetown (8-6) in the Big East standings but behind the Hoyas in every NCAA tournament seeding projection. Reason: the Hoyas have a significantly better body of non-conference work, with victories over Duke, Temple and Old Dominion. Louisville did precious little in non-conference games, but got a signature victory at Syracuse and has followed that up with victories over Notre Dame and DePaul. With the Cardinals still on the bubble and facing a difficult closing stretch (at UConn, at Marquette, Syracuse), this game is bigger for them.
Georgetown comes in on a two-game losing streak, a stunning loss at Rutgers followed by a comeback that fell short against Syracuse. In those two games the Hoyas made just 9 of 33 3-point shots while opponents hit 15 of 33. Georgetown needs to tighten up the perimeter defense against a Louisville team that can put four 3-point shooters on the floor and get hot on a moment’s notice.