Monday, March 1, 2010
Saddle Up: A Hoya redemption?
By Eamonn Brennan
Saddle Up is our daily preview of the hoops your TV wants you to watch. Here's Monday night's briefer-than-usual rundown.
No. 20 Georgetown at No. 8 West Virginia, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: There's no mystery as to why Georgetown fell off a cliff in this week's coaches' poll; the Hoyas have lost three of their last four, including a loss at Rutgers and Saturday's blowout at home to a desperate, bubble-riding Notre Dame team. This is the mark of the Hoya in 2010: inconsistency. Georgetown has the talent to play with anyone, and can blow out very good teams on its best nights -- see the Jan. 30 Duke rout, easily Georgetown's best win of the season -- but the Hoyas are prone to frequent letdowns against lesser squads. A win at West Virginia would right the ship, so to speak. Georgetown has no hope of a Big East title now. But ending the season with a win over a top 10 team at a place like Morgantown is the sort of boost any psychologically inclined Georgetown fan would love to see. It couldn't hurt the Hoyas' tournament seeding, either.
The Mountaineers have the chance to close their season on a similarly uplifting note. Tonight's game is big enough; Saturday's at Villanova is even bigger. Win both of them and Bob Huggins' team could put itself in position to snag a No. 2 seed on Selection Sunday. The Mountaineers are miles ahead of Georgetown on tempo-free paper, and are still doing what they've been doing all season long: rebounding an insane number of their misses on the offensive end and creating second possessions at a higher rate than anyone in the country. Against Georgetown's mediocre defense -- the Hoyas are just No. 132 in opposing offensive rebound percentage -- it's safe to expect more of the same.
Oklahoma at No. 25 Texas, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN: This is another in a long list of combined Oklahoma and Texas games that looked pretty awesome before the season started. Then Willie Warren and the Sooners had an inexplicably disastrous year, rendering them a non-entity in the Big 12. Warren has been sidelined with mono and will miss tonight's game thanks to an ankle injury as the Sooners look to avoid their first seven-game losing streak in -- get this -- 41 years. Meanwhile, Texas is Texas, and you already know this story. Rick Barnes can't decide on a rotation, the Longhorns on the floor can't seem to figure out their roles, and a team that began the year by winning its first 17 games and rising to No. 1 overall is now a fringe top 25 team entirely gone from the Final Four picture. If North Carolina and UCLA showed up in Austin, Tex., tonight, we could hold a star-studded convention of the year's most disappointing teams.