With Saturday's matchup with Xavier starting a brutal four-game close to the regular season, it's time to reevaluate Georgetown's postseason scenario. Even the head coach, one usually hesitant to talk big picture or the future beyond the next game, can't deny the calendar.
"Is it the time of year where you start picking your head up and looking around, seeing where we stand, yes," Georgetown's John Thompson III said before Friday's practice at McDonough Arena. "But we know we just have to get wins."
Record: 15-11, 6-8 Big East
The good: Strong non-conference résumé with RPI top-50 wins over Michigan State and VCU, both top-10 ranked at the time, and Kansas State. Georgetown also has victories over fellow NCAA Tournament at-large contenders St. John's and Providence, having split the season series with both.
The bad: This section will take a bit longer. For starters, the Hoyas only have 15 wins. Games remain, but that's a low total at this point of the season. Georgetown's Big East record is back under .500. Historically that is a lousy place to be when it comes to the selection committee picking at-large teams. The loss to Seton Hall dropped Georgetown's RPI to unwieldy 63. While a 10-3 record might not so bad without context, it's not tourney worthy against teams with an RPI of 125 and lower. I'm still debating which is worse, losing twice to Seton Hall by double digits or to Northeastern (RPI 232) on a neutral site.
Big East chase: The Hoyas currently are in seventh place in the 10-team conference. They would need to join the top six in order to receive an opening round bye. Otherwise, Georgetown's pursuit of the championship and the automatic tournament bid would require winning four games in four days. Playing the extra game might not be the worst thing - tack on another win, build momentum - but certainly not ideal if everything comes down to the auto bid.
Schedule: The glass-half empty clan says game over for the Hoyas considering the final four regular season games are against four of the top five teams in the Big East: Xavier (Saturday), at Marquette, No. 11 Creighton, at No. 9 Villanova. Georgetown lost the first meeting with each of those four teams this season. The Hoyas need a 3-1 finish to end the regular season with a 9-9 record.
The glass-half full crowd says this schedule couldn't work out any better. Pick up victories against these formidable foes helps the win total and simultaneously boosts Georgetown's RPI. Even adding home victories over Xavier and Creighton to the Hoyas impressive non-conference triumphs puts that portion of their résumé in rarified air among at-large candidates.
"We are in a position where we can still play our way in," Thompson said. "A lot of people can't say that right now. Now we just have to go do it."
Even if the Hoyas cannot pull off winning three of four, helpful opportunities exist in the Big East Tournament should the bracket work in their favor.
Outlook: Georgetown looked like an NCAA Tournament-worthy team in wins this month against Michigan State and Providence yet resembled an NIT squad over the last two games.
The recent four-game winning streak evened the Hoyas conference record and put them back on the good side of the NCAA Tournament bubble according to several bracket projections. Losing to a surging St. John's squad they already defeated once won't hurt the résumé much. Getting swept by a suspect Seton Hall team and losing each game by double digits is going to sting.
Weak describes the bottom part of the realistic NCAA at-large pool, another reason Georgetown's bubble has not yet burst. These final four games will show which side of the postseason aisle they officially belong on. The trend is not their friend, but the remaining schedule can be an ally if Thompson and the players can take advantage.