Hungry Hoyas shoot for Big East title at Villanova

Hungry Hoyas shoot for Big East title at Villanova
March 6, 2013, 9:30 am
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Is Porter the best player in college hoops?

Georgetown has been chewing up the competition of late, 11 straight wins and counting. If the fifth-ranked and first place Hoyas gobble up a victory Wednesday night at Villanova, the program will taste at least a share of its first Big East regular season title since going back-to-back from 2006-2008.

Meanwhile the Wildcats, currently sitting right on the NCAA Tournament bubble, have their own agenda. Time is possibly running out on them participating in the NCAA Tournament - unless they take a bite out of a certain highly ranked team. With this scenario projecting essentially an all or nothing situation, does that make Villanova the hungrier team?

"We're a hungry team," said Georgetown guard Markel Starks. "I don't want to make it seem like they're the only ones not eating. We don't feel like we have enough on our plate."

Speaking with reporters from inside McDonough Arena, the chatty junior guard pointing toward the gym walls draped with banners from previous successes including a certain white one representing the 1984 National Championship.

"Look at these banners up," Starks said. "I don't see any Sweet 16's or Elite Eights, no Big East [titles] in a while. To me, that's where my mindset is. I'm trying to get a Big East Regular Season Championship, hopefully a tournament championship and hopefully another white banner."

While a win against Villanova (18-12, 9-8) would feed the Hoyas somewhat by earning at least a piece of the regular season crown, Georgetown (23-4, 13-3) would also clinch the No. 1 seed in next week's Big East Tournament.

"It feels good to be at this point, but now we have to go out and do it," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "As all Big East contests it's probably going to be a tough heated contest. Both teams are playing for something."

Earning a top seed in the NCAA Tournament is also in play. The Hoyas have not advanced past the opening weekend of the ultimate March Madness event since reaching the 2007 Final Four.

Five wins during the current streak have come away from the Verizon Center. The closing stretch of away games - Syracuse, Connecticut, Villanova - represents something of a Greatest Hits tour in what is the last full season of the Big East as historically constituted.

"We have to go on the road, yet again," Thompson said. "The schedulers didn't cut us any breaks these last five games."

That's perhaps a sentiment shared at Villanova. The Wildcats enter their season finale having lost two straight - both on the road. Georgetown has won three straight and eight of nine in the series.

Moreover, the Hoyas have that Otto Porter Jr. fella, the runaway favorite for Big East Player of the Year. Georgetown's leader in scoring (16.6) and rebounds (7.6), Porter's national profile has zoomed since scoring 33 points at Syracuse on February 23. Before that winning performance, the starry sophomore's career-high scoring day stood at 22. He has not scored less than 22 point since.

Over his last three games, Porter has averaged 27.6 points, 7 rebounds, 3.3 steals while shooting 58.1 percent from the field (25 of 43) and 56.2 (9 of 16) from beyond the 3-point arc.

Like the rest of the Hoyas, the likely All-American remains singularly focused on the current task, i.e. devouring the Wildcats.

"We know that on the road is tough and it's always going to be tough," Porter said. "We just got to stay focused like we have been in any road game, that extra awareness which we will have."

Villanova, led by the inside-outside combo of JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono, has won three straight at home, holding its last two opponents to 63 points or less.

"They are a very good defensive team that puts you in difficult situations because off their aggressive switching," Thompson said. "It's one of those games where a lot of times it's hard to get a flow."

From the outside, one might wonder if the Hoyas, even their head coach, could become preoccupied with all the big picture talk.

"I do need a few more hours in the day," Thompson cracked. "If can get to 26 hours in a day I'm good. But it hasn't been that much...if you're asking me if I'm distracted, not at all."