The Big East is always a hotbed for college hoops magic, and there should be plenty in the building when the Georgetown Hoyas pay the Butler Bulldogs a visit tonight.
Both teams have one goal in common tonight: continue momentum. Georgetown (18-9, 10-6 Big East) has won three of four, but has struggled to set itself apart from the rest of the pack in the ever tough Big East. Save for a stunning upset victory over Villanova on January 19, the Hoyas don’t really have any major in-conference wins to further help their NCAA tournament cause.
That is, unless you count their victory over Butler on January 17. In a stunning finish, an Isaac Copeland three-pointer put the Hoyas ahead with mere seconds remaining, and a clutch block from junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera gave them the victory. Sure, both squads were unranked at the time, but it adds some extra adrenaline into tonight’s game.
Adrenaline is just what Butler needs, as the regular season’s close is drawing near, and they are in a fight for top seeding in the infamous Big East Tournament. Like the Hoyas, the Bulldogs have also won three of four, but have more signature wins this year, the most notable being one over the North Carolina Tar Heels back in November.
But tonight’s game against Georgetown is more than just avenging a tough loss. A win for Butler would give them a great deal of momentum heading into Saturday’s regular season finale against Providence, who are tied with Georgetown for third in the Big East, and only trail Butler by a single game. Moreover, the Friars defeated the Bulldogs on January 6. Thus, when push comes to shove, this game is all about conference tournament seeding and a spot in the big dance thereafter.
So even though some may assume ranked Butler matching up against unranked Georgetown tonight should be a walk in the park for the former, don’t count out John Thompson III’s feisty team. These two are both tied for 23rd in RPI rankings, and have a single game separating them in the conference standings. Turn on Fox Sports 1 at 7 pm tonight for what is bound to be a definitive barnburner!
*Section Photo credit to Stephen Dunn, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Howard Smith, USA Today Sports