On Wednesday, Georgetown men’s basketball released its impressive non-conference schedule for the upcoming campaign.
The Hoyas have five games against power-five opponents, but none should get the average basketball fan more excited than the Dec. 14 date with Syracuse at Capital One Arena.
One of the most heated and historic rivalries in the sport, the series took a one-year hiatus in 2014 after the Big East broke up and Syracuse shoved off for the ACC. But the teams have played each December since, and we will be treated to another edition in 2019.
The Orange took last year’s showdown in the Carrier Dome, with Tyus Battle coasting down the floor for a long pull-up jumper that gave his team a 72-71 advantage with 2.5 seconds remaining in the game. That would be the final score as the Syracuse faithful reacted in kind.
We can only hope we will get the same drama this time around, but regardless, it’s always good to have the Orange and Hoyas on the same court. It’s how college basketball should be.
Georgetown will be challenged well before its rivalry with Syracuse, though. A Penn State team with some serious talent will come to D.C. on Nov. 14 for the Gavitt Games, a big test for Pat Chambers and his Nittany Lions to prove out of the gate that this time, they’re finally NCAA Tournament worthy.
The Hoyas have a murders row lined up for late November and early December. First, the Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden will pit them against Texas on Nov. 21, then either Duke or California on Nov. 22. On Nov. 30, UNC-Greensboro comes to Capital One Arena, returning three of its starters from the team that narrowly missed an at-large bid to the Big Dance last season. Then four days later, Georgetown will be in Stillwater to battle Oklahoma State, and the road trip will continue to Dallas to take on SMU on Dec. 7.
With the Syracuse game a week later, the Hoyas will play five power-five opponents in 24 days, with some other serious programs in UNCG and SMU in the mix.
You have to appreciate the aggressive scheduling from head coach Patrick Ewing, who seems to have his Hoyas on the right track. Last year, this team came on late in the season to receive some at-large attention, though inexperience and inconsistency ultimately held it back. But from where Georgetown was before Ewing arrived, a 19-14 record with an NIT appearance was a step in the right direction.
Four of the team’s five starters were underclassmen last year, three of them freshman, and they’re all back for the 2019-20 season. James Akinjo and Mac McClung will lead the charge as returning sophomores, looking to build on impressive introductions to Big East basketball a season ago. With that duo on the perimeter, the Hoyas have one of the most exciting backcourts in the country.
This should be the year Georgetown gets back into the NCAA Tournament and returns to relevancy after taking the last half-decade off. But it begins in the non-conference. Last year, the Hoyas played a relatively weak out-of-conference slate, which hurt them in the committee’s eyes and kept them from picking up any marquee wins before the conference season. This time around, it can and should be different, but there is plenty of work to be done before that can be guaranteed.