College basketball has been no stranger to upsets during the 2012-13 season. On Wednesday night, No. 5 Georgetown was the latest team to suffer the wrath of the upset bug.
Villanova took a four-point halftime lead at Wells Fargo Center and managed to hold on for a 67-57 victory, dropping the Hoyas to 13-4 in Big East conference play. Georgetown is now in three-way tie for first with No. 15 Marquette and No. 8 Louisville with just one game and the Big East tournament standing between these teams and March Madness.
We all remember Villanova's "Perfect Game" to down Patrick Ewing and the mighty Hoyas in the 1985 NCAA tournament final. While Wednesday night's game wasn't nearly the strategic onslaught to compare to that final, 'Nova made sure it made the most of every opportunity to shoot the ball.
Led by JayVaughn Pinkston's 20 points, the Wildcats shot 16-of-34 from the field, 5-of-10 from behind the three-point line and managed to get to the free-throw line 42 times—34 more than Georgetown attempted on the evening.
In addition to those impressive numbers, Villanova also had 15 steals, forced 22 Georgetown turnovers and managed to hold Player of the Year candidate Otto Porter Jr. to 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard made clutch three-pointers in the second half to keep Georgetown at bay after allowing a Hoya run, and the Wildcats managed to close this game out from the free-throw line in a huge win for their NCAA tournament hopes.
Georgetown was able to escape a near-loss to Connecticut last week after some last-minute heroics from Porter and Markel Starks. But after watching that game and Wednesday night's, it's becoming painfully clear that the Hoyas have had a hard time getting up for lesser competition down the stretch this season.
With the loss, Georgetown (23-5, 13-4) is no longer in control of its own destiny in the Big East regular-season title chase. It also puts Villanova (19-12, 10-8) in contention for an NCAA tournament berth after a major home win against a Top Five opponent.
ESPN analyst and former college basketball star Jay Williams gets our Twitter reaction going with an interesting statement that should make the Hoyas hang their heads in the locker room:
Jay Williams @RealJayWilliams
Georgetown with 18 turnovers & somehow is still in this game @ Villanova. #BigEast3/7/2013, 1:26:42 AM
CBS Sports noted earlier Wednesday that Villanova is one of its last four teams expected to make the Big Dance, and Wednesday's win only furthered that claim:
CBS Sports @CBSSports
New Projected Bracket: Kentucky, Tennessee, Villanova, and UMass are the last four in. http://t.co/hWK6mLUNI33/6/2013, 2:23:22 PM
As Jeff Goodman noted, the Wildcats have basically punched their ticket to March Madness, confirming CBS Sports' prediction earlier in the day:
Jeff Goodman @GoodmanESPN
Villanova has now beaten Georgetown, Louisville and Syracuse. Wildcats ticket basically punched now.3/7/2013, 2:05:38 AM
Doug Gottlieb and Ryen Russillo disagreed on who deserved the most praise after Porter and the Hoyas mounted a late second-half comeback:
Doug Gottlieb @GottliebShow
Lubick made last 2 plays #passing “@ryenarussillo: Otto Porter is so damn smart.”3/7/2013, 12:42:12 AM
As Anish Shroff noted, the Wildcats are going to be a dangerous team come March with their ability to get to the free-throw line:
Anish Shroff @AnishESPN
Nova leading Georgetown... Wildcats have a 26-8 edge in FTA. Nova's one of the best in the nation at getting to FT line.3/7/2013, 1:44:22 AM
After coming back against the Huskies, the Hoyas didn't have enough in the tank to do the same on the road against Villanova. The loss doesn't dampen Georgetown's March Madness hopes just yet, but offensive production continues to be a concern over this final stretch of the season.
Georgetown will close out the season with No. 17 Syracuse on Saturday before getting ready for the Big East tournament.
As for Villanova, the Wildcats look like a dangerous team come March. The three-point and free-throw shooting will have to be on point, but after going 3-0 against Top Five teams this season, the Wildcats are making a case for March relevancy.
We'll see what it does in the Big East tournament, but expect 'Nova to be a sleeper in some brackets. The Wildcats managed to pull off the latest big upset and trigger anticipation of more upsets against top teams in the Big Dance.