Georgetown ready for postseason play
Big East quarterfinal: No. 1 Georgetown (19-11, 14-4) vs. No. 9 Cincinnati
When and where: Thursday, noon at Madison Square Garden
The scenario: Despite tying Louisville and Marquette for first place in the conference standings, the No. 5 ranked Hoyas enter the Big East Tournament as the top seed for the first time since 2008. Georgetown has seven career Big East Tournament titles, tied with Connecticut for the most in conference history. The Hoyas are also poised for a potential No. 1 or 2 seed in next week's NCAA Tournament, though all could be in jeopardy with a loss against the Bearcats, who reached the quarters by routing Providence 61-44 on Wednesday. As one of the top four seeds, Georgetown received a double-bye into the quarterfinals.
The foe: The Bearcats closed the regular season losing six of nine games, but won their finale against South Florida and showed their teeth against the Friars by jumping ahead quickly. Sean Kilpatrick paced Cincinnati with 17 points, JaQuon Parker had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Bearcats may have put themselves into the NCAA Tournament's field of 68 with the win. The Big East's worst field goal percentage shooting team (37.2 percent) during the regular season, Cincinnati countered another suspect shooting performance by holding a 42-32 edge on the glass and the Friars to 1 of 16 from beyond the 3-point line. The 6-foot-4 Kilpatrick leads the Bearcats in scoring (17.2) while senior guard Cashmere Wright averages 12.8 points.
The history: Entering this season and thanks to its grinding, physical brand of basketball, Cincinnati controlled the series with four straight wins, including a 72-70 double-overtime thriller in the same quarterfinal round last season. However, in the only meeting this season back in February, the Hoyas won on 62-55. With Porter in foul trouble after blowing a 12-point second half lead, Starks drained a clutch 3-pointer and made five free throws in the final minute. The junior scored 17 points. Porter had 16 and Smith-Rivera 14 for the Hoyas, who held the Bearcats to 31.5 percent from the field and 4 of 24 from beyond the 3-point arc. JaQuon Parker led Cincinnati with 15 points.
Last time out: The Hoyas' raucous 61-39 romp over rival Syracuse on Saturday clinched a share of the Big East title, the third under coach John Thompson III. Markel Starks scored 19 points and confident freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera tallied 11 of his 15 points in the first half as Georgetown won for the 12th time in its final 13 regular season games. Otto Porter, announced as the unanimous Big East Player of the Year winner on Tuesday, finished with 10 points and eight rebounds while matching his career-high of seven assists. The Big East's top scoring defense in conference games (56.9 ppg), the Hoyas held the Orange to their fewest points since 1962.
On deck?: The winner faces either No. 4 Pittsburgh or No. 5 Syracuse on Friday night in the first semifinal.