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Misfiring Georgetown succumbs against No. 6 Villanova

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Misfiring Georgetown succumbs against No. 6 Villanova

Before the season tipped off, the Big East coaches picked reigning conference champion Villanova for a repeat performance. For second place, Georgetown. Entering the first matchup of the year between longtime rivals, the standings showed exactly that.

Yet the overall body of work showed a clear difference. The Wildcats are a nationally ranked team, No. 6 to be exact. The Hoyas' solid January couldn't overshadow baffling results in November and December. This matchup would let us know how far coach John Thompson III's squad truly grew.

With the Big East race in mind, the answer is not enough, not yet.

Georgetown rallied late, but couldn't overcome shooting a  season-low 32.7 percent from the field as No. 6 Villanova exacted revenge from last season with a 55-50 win Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center.

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 15 points for the Hoyas (11-7, 4-2), who never truly found rhythm against Villanova's smothering defense. The Wildcats (16-2, 6-0)  lead the Big East in field goal percentage defense. Georgetown sank seven 3-pointers, but only hit 10 of 33 two-point attempts.

The poor shooting covered both halves equally. Trailing 26-22 at halftime, the Hoyas only scored five points in the opening 10 minutes of the second half -- and yet were in position for the upset late. Trailing by 12 points in the second half and 43-31 with less than eight minutes remaining, Georgetown twice closed within three points. Reggie Cameron's 3-pointer cut the lead to 49-46 with 1:11 remaining.

"Early in the second half, a large chunk of the second half, it was hard to get a rhythm," Georgetown coach John Thompson said. "We just stayed with it."

That's when bad luck crept in. After forcing a Villanova long miss, the rebound fell to Georgetown center Jessie Govan, but the freshman lost an uncontested rebound out of bounds.

Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono scored 15 points and closed out the win with six straight free throws. Josh Hart (Sidwell Friends) had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

“Great road victory for us," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We have so much respect for Georgetown, the program and this team. We knew it was going to be this kind of game. Georgetown wouldn’t go away."

Isaac Copeland had 11 points and Cameron 10 for the Hoyas, a team known for scoring droughts. Yet credit the Wildcats' defenders for much of Georgetown's woes. The Hoyas often forced attempts late in the shot clock after finding no passing or penetration opportunities inside. Georgetown only had six assists and Smith-Rivera matched his career-high with six turnovers.

"They were just being ultra aggressive like they like always are," Smith-Rivera said. "Part of it was we had some shots that we usually make that didn't go in, and part of it was they packed the paint."

The Hoyas rebounded from a rough non-conference start as their 7-4 record included stunning home losses to Radford, Monmouth and UNC Asheville. The scheduling gods hooked Georgetown with a favorable schedule opening Big East play and the Hoyas took advantage. Their four wins, including Wednesday's 93-73 victory over St. John's, all came by at least 10 points.

Starting with Saturday's matchup, the schedule picked up dramatically with three games against teams currently ranked among the top 12 in the latest AP poll. For a shot at an NCAA Tournament at-large berth, Georgetown probably needs 12-13 Big East wins with some over those elite foes.

One chance went by the wayside Saturday. 

* If Smith-Rivera or Copeland didn't make a basket in the first half, neither did Georgetown. That was literally the case until Cameron's 3-pointer with 6:05 remaining. DSR and Copeland finished 7 of 14 while their teammates shot 1 of 11. When adding Cameron to the mix, Georgetown's top three scorers shot 14 of 29 from the field. Everyone else, three of 23. Villanova's packing the paint strategy combined with aggressive guarding stymied Georgetown. Centers Bradley Hayes and Govan combined to shoot 1 of 10 from the field. Wing L.J. Peak, who prefers attacking the basket off the dribble, finished 2 of 9. "I thought our defense was pretty tough tonight," Wright said.

* Forward Marcus Derrickson returned to lineup after sitting out the St. John's matchup, but wasn't a major factor with two points in 10 minutes. The freshman banged knees during a prior practice and told coach John Thompson III he could not go.

* One obvious difference with the makeup of the Hoyas entering this season involved a deep group of perimeter shooters. Those deep threats found the mark plenty during the opening five games of Big East play, shooting a league-high 41 percent on 3-pointers. However, opponents nearly matched them (39.4%). Georgetown hit 7 of 19 from deep, yet held Villanova to 3 of 18.

Villanova, despite deep shooting threats like Arcidiacono, entered with the opposite profile. Overall, the Wildcats were last in 3-pont shooting, but first in 3-point percentage defense, holding opponents to 31.5 percent.

* The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Hoyas. The next two game are on the road, starting with a house of horrors matchup at No. 7 Xavier followed by a trip out of conference against former Big East rival Connecticut. Then back-to-back home games against Creighton, which beat Georgetown 79-66 earlier this month, and  No. 12.

Bracketology Round-up: Who’s hot and ignoring the bubble

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USA TODAY Sports

Bracketology Round-up: Who’s hot and ignoring the bubble

Now is the time that teams need to make their late season push. Whether a team is in the tournament or otherwise, the games now matter more than ever.

Yet, it is the teams solidly in the field that have been slipping as of late. Rarely have we seen losses from teams on the bubble.

The last 10 days saw the four teams that many assumed were locks for a No. 1 seed all fall to an unranked opponent. None of the falls being quite as bad as Purdue’s who suffered through a three-game losing streak. Nearly across the whole board the Boilermakers only dropped to a No. 2 seed, but their margin for error is a lot smaller than many of the teams around them.

READ ALSO: VIRGINIA REMAINS No. 1 AS TOP 25 IS RE-SHUFFLED

Other Big Ten schools continue to rise with strong showings in conference play. Ohio State is now getting some love as a No. 4/ No. 5 seed and Michigan is not too far off either. The Spartans of Michigan State have begun to leapfrog teams that passed them in January as they are on the No. 2/ No. 3 seed line. 

Texas Tech rode a seven-game winning streak to now a emerge as a contender for the top-8 seeds in the tournament. Auburn has also snuck into that conversation as well.

The Virginia Cavaliers remained as the near-unanimous No. 1 overall seed from the following bracketologists. They rebounded with a solid road win at Miami this past week.

For these reasons, no one is worried about who is in and who is out of the tournament, unless of course your team is involved. The drama around the bubble, for now, is subdued.

For the mid-major fans, Wichita State (now in the AAC) is in the mix as well for a favorable seed. They grabbed their best win of the season at Cincinnati on Feb. 18 in a ‘prove-it’ contest for both teams.

But with all of the lesser Power 5 teams winning against top tier opponents, it is not helping many mid-majors that are floating around the bubble. St. Bonaventure, Temple, and even St. Mary’s basically all face win-out situations.

These projections are based on their latest bracket as of Feb. 19.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Ohio State

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Tennessee

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Wichita State

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Baylor, Texas, St. Bonaventure, and Syracuse
First Four out: UCLA, USC, Washington, and Nebraska

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Nicholls St./ Savannah State
No. 10: Virginia Tech (West, at-large) vs. No. 7 Alabama

Dave Ommen (NBC Sports/ Yahoo/ Bracketville):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 North Carolina
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Gonzaga

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Purdue
No. 4 Wichita State

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Tennessee

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Washington, Baylor, St. Bonaventure, and Syracuse
First Four out: UCLA, LSU, Louisville, and Marquette

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Southern/ Savannah State
No. 9: Virginia Tech (Midwest, at-large) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma

Shelby Mast (USA-Today):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Ohio State

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Clemson

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 4 Wichita State

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 North Carolina
No. 3 Arizona
No. 4 Tennessee

Last Four in: St. Mary’s (CA), St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, and Washington
First Four out: LSU, Marquette, UCLA, and Utah

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Wagner
No. 9: Virginia Tech (Midwest, at-large) vs. No. 8 Michigan
Maryland (“On Life Support”)

Chris Dobbertean (SB Nation) – Updated on 2/16:

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 4 Tennessee

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Kansas
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Gonzaga

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 West Virginia

West Region:
No. 1 Auburn
No. 2 Texas Tech
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Louisville, UCLA, Texas, and Baylor
First Four out: St. Bonaventure, USC, Temple, and Syracuse

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ)
No. 10: Virginia Tech (at-large)
Maryland (also considered)

Jerry Palm (CBS Sports):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Gonzaga

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Wichita State

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Tennessee

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Texas, Butler, Florida, and Syracuse
First Four out: Baylor, Utah, Washington, and Louisville

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Nicholls St./ Prairie View A&M
No. 9: Virginia Tech (West, at-large) vs. No. 8 Arkansas

Delphi Bracketology (Most accurate bracket projection of past two years – Updated 2/17):

No. 1 seeds: Virginia, Xavier, Villanova, and Purdue
No. 2 seeds: Kansas, Purdue, Duke, and Texas Tech
No. 3 seeds: Michigan State, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Clemson
No. 4 seeds: Tennessee, Arizona, West Virginia, Gonzaga

Last Four in: Texas, Baylor, Louisville, UCLA
First Four out: St. Bonaventure, LSU Temple, and Syracuse

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1 overall: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 9: Virginia Tech (at-large)

Local Rundown:

It is clear that Virginia’s loss to Virginia Tech will chalk up as just a blemish on an otherwise outstanding tournament resume. The Cavalier’s made that clear with their second half in Coral Gables on Saturday.

The top defensive team in the country does have some wiggle room as they close out the 2017-18 season with the madness from the teams behind them. A loss or two will not move them off the No. 1 line, and depending on which team, they might even maintain the top seed.

Virginia Tech, the team that beat the Cavaliers, is taking advantage of the upsets across the NCAA. Paired with their upset win, they went from a borderline bubble team to a No.9/ No. 10 seed. What does make things difficult for them is that their final four games are against three NCAA tournament teams and a bubble team in Louisville.

They honestly are going to need some other teams to fall or themselves to pull out some monster upsets to stay on the good side of the bubble.

With losses to Penn State and Nebraska, the Maryland Terrapins odds to get into the dance are all but vanquished. Only two bracketologists even mentioned the Terps in their analysis. However, they are not entirely out of it with their schedule and a small run in the Big Ten tournament. There remains a small chance, ever so slight. 

The rest of the Mid-Atlantic Region (Delaware, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) is going to have to rely on upsets in conference tournaments to get more teams in. Keep an eye on these teams as they try and ride momentum into March: Old Dominion (21-5, 12-2 C-USA), VCU (15-2, 7-7 A-10), William & Mary (16-11, 9-7 CAA), Towson (18-11, 8-8 CAA), Radford (17-12, 10-6 Big South), and Mount St. Mary’s (16-13, 10-6 NEC), Navy (19-10, 10-6 Patriot).

Virginia stays at No. 1, Middle Tennessee enters Top 25 for first time ever

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia stays at No. 1, Middle Tennessee enters Top 25 for first time ever

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Virginia strengthened its hold on No. 1 in the AP Top 25 while Duke jumped back into the top five after a pair of impressive wins.

The Cavaliers earned 42 of 65 first-place votes in the poll released Monday. That's 12 more than last week when they reached No. 1 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era.

The top four remained unchanged, with No. 2 Michigan State earning 19 first-place votes after rallying from 27 down to beat Northwestern. Third-ranked Villanova got the other four first-place votes after winning at No. 4 Xavier.

Fifth-ranked Duke jumped seven spots after beating Virginia Tech and Clemson despite playing without injured top freshman Marvin Bagley III.

Middle Tennessee checked in at 24th, marking its first AP Top 25 appearance in program history.

Complete AP Top 25 Poll for Week 16:

1. Virginia (42)
2. Michigan State (19)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
6. Texas Tech
7. Gonzaga
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Auburn
13. Wichita State
14. Arizona
15. Clemson
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Nevada
21. West Virginia
22. Saint Mary's (CA)
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee
25. Florida State

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.