A Hoya-centric NCAA Tourney preview

The Georgetown Hoyas have to be pleased with their situation after the NCAA tournament bracket was released last night. Georgetown will play its opening round games in Philadelphia, starting against Florida Gulf Coast on Friday. Should they advance, the Hoyas will take on the winner of Oklahoma and San Diego State on Sunday. Perhaps best of all for Hoya fans is the advantage they have over their counterparts in terms of proximity to home. Unlike the Syracuse game at MSG on Friday, the crowd should be decidedly pro-Georgetown this weekend, which hopefully will propel the Hoyas to their first Sweet Sixteen since they reached the Final Four in 2007.

Georgetown has followed that stellar season with a series of first and second round exits, even missing the tournament completely one year. It’s getting to the point where the team might have a psychological barrier to overcome in making it past the second round. John Thompson III and Otto Porter Jr. were the Big East coach and player of the year, respectively, but it will all be for naught if the Hoyas don’t put in a strong tournament performance.

On the bright side, this bracket might be the most favorable that Georgetown has seen since the magical run of 2007. FGCU is a trendy upset pick this year as a 15 seed, and San Diego State and Oklahoma are no pushovers, but there doesn’t appear to be a Stephen Curry-like star or a Final Four contender like VCU among the group to foil the Hoyas. In addition, Georgetown has not had this complete a squad since Jeff Green suited up in blue and gray, and Porter might be an even better college player than Green was. If they can make it to Dallas, the Hoyas will likely see Florida again, in a replay of the season opener that was cancelled at halftime due to a soaking wet outdoor court. This time there will be no doubt about a second half, with an Elite Eight berth at stake.

Funnily enough, Georgetown has been seeded in the same region as Kansas each year it has made the tournament since that Final Four, but the two schools have yet to play each other. There’s certainly no guarantee again this year, as the Jayhawks appear to have a tougher road to the regional finals than the Hoyas do. Unless it becomes the first ever one seed to lose its opening game, Kansas will move on to play the winner of UNC – Villanova, two proud programs playing their best basketball of the year at the moment. If they make it to the Sweet Sixteen, the Jayhawks could face a familiar tournament foe in VCU or talented but inconsistent Michigan.

Looking around the rest of the bracket, there are several other interesting potential match ups. Indiana and Syracuse, two college basketball heavyweights, could meet at the Verizon Center in the East regional semi finals. Butler has been picked to go down in the first round by many experts so far, but if they advance past Bucknell the Bulldogs will likely face Marquette in what could be a preview of the new Big East. And finally, Gonzaga may have to prove it deserved that number one seed quite early, with a possible second round face off with Pittsburgh looming.

Georgetown can’t afford a poor performance this weekend, but the Hoyas are well placed to reach their first Sweet Sixteen in six years. If it’s not Florida, a rematch with UCLA could be in the cards, and Minnesota cannot be ruled out either. There will surely be plenty of upsets and unexpected moments to come, and that is why this tournament is the most exciting competition in the world. Reaching the Elite Eight would solidify what so far has been an excellent season, but Hoya fans, like all others, won’t let their dreams stop there.

Final Four picks: Louisville, Wisconsin, Georgetown, Indiana

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