Georgetown Basketball: Are the Hoyas the Most Underrated Team in the Country?
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The Hoyas have played like one of the best teams in the nation during the past four weeks. Georgetown's ascension in the Big East Conference standings can be attributed to eight victories in the past nine games, including three wins against nationally ranked teams.
However, it seems the Hoyas have been lost in the shadows of the hyped (Louisville), the familiar (Syracuse), and a national media darling (Notre Dame) among the conference's top-tier teams. The Big East boasts "household name" star power, but are any of those players currently suiting up for Georgetown?
Head Coach John Thompson III has led this team to six NCAA tournaments in eight seasons on the job, but Georgetown hasn't survived to reach at least the Sweet Sixteen since 2007. Perhaps that lull has given the media and college basketball's national fanbase time to look elsewhere when ranking the Big East's elite.
The program's immense success of the 1980s is also lost on many of today's generation.
But after the Hoyas' 63-55 win over Marquette on Monday, underrate this team at your own risk. Georgetown implements the conference's premier defense, and sophomore forward Otto Porter is blossoming into a legitimate superstar just as his team needs him most.
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Georgetown (18-4, 8-3 in Big East) is currently locked in a first-place tie in the revered conference's win column and continues to rack up convincing wins over quality opponents. Yet the Hoyas still sit at No. 15 in the AP Top 25, trailing a team that has lost two straight games (No. 13 Ohio State) and a conference opponent it already beat (No. 12 Louisville).
Georgetown is among the country's most dangerous teams right now because it can still win games when shots aren't falling on the offensive end. The Hoyas have surrendered 60 or more points just once since Jan. 19.
During the team's current six-game win streak, the Hoyas own wins over three ranked opponents (No. 5 Louisville, No. 24 Notre Dame and No. 18 Marquette) and they stamped out a rising St. John's squad, 68-56. Georgetown held foes under 53 points in three of those victories.
This team has also proven to be mentally tough, excelling on the road in recent action. Georgetown has claimed road victories over St. John's, Notre Dame and Rutgers in Big East play.
That experience should go a long way throughout the remainder of Georgetown's conference schedule. The Hoyas head to Syracuse, Cincinnati, Connecticut and Villanova during the final stretch of grueling Big East regular-season action.
And then there's Otto Porter Jr.
The 6'8" sophomore has been sensational and has provided his team with a timely spark when Georgetown is searching for answers on offense. Porter leads the Hoyas in points (15.3 per game), rebounds (7.9) and three-point shooting percentage (44 percent).
Despite his team-high touches, Porter turns the ball over less than two times per contest. He has scored at least 17 points in eight of the team's last nine matchups.
So why does Georgetown's improving catalyst not receive the accolades of his more publicized conference contemporaries?
“Why? Because you guys don’t talk about him," Thompson told ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil. “He’s one of the best players in the country and he’s consistently shown that. He takes pride in and excels at every aspect of the game. He’s not just thinking about my touches or my shots, and all of it is under the umbrella of how to put the team in the best position to win.
“Winning is important to him and because winning is important, he understands that getting that deflection is important. He understands that communication on defense is important and that going after rebounds is important."
Porter's under-the-radar persona matches that of this entire Georgetown team.
The Hoyas still have two matchups against Syracuse to seize control of the Big East conference lead heading into postseason tournament play. If Georgetown continues to play composed offensive basketball and sticks to its highly successful defensive scheme, this squad could end up claiming at least a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
At that point perhaps people will begin to view Georgetown as a true threat to reach its first Final Four since 2007. But don't let me ruin the surprise for you.
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