Georgetown, Butler, Indiana, and Pittsburgh All Need Jimmy V Classic Wins

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IDecember 7, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Gordon Hayward #20 of the Butler Bulldogs  makes a three point basket against the UCLA Bruins at the 76 Classic at Anaheim Convention Center on November 27, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  Portland won 61-56. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

All four teams - Georgetown, Butler, Indiana, and Pittsburgh - will fight for much needed respect Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.

It's fitting that Georgetown and Butler face each other as both squads could use a victory to legitimize top 25 rankings. Or in Georgetown's case, a 15 ranking.

In Tuesday night's other game, Indiana and Pittsburgh both look to knock each other off in order to avoid being seen as a conference doormat.

Butler has taken on a schedule that will for the first time challenge the Bulldogs during the non-conference slate. In past years, Butler had outstanding teams but didn't schedule enough games against major conference or top 25 opponents to showcase the school's talent.

This season that changed.

The Horizon League favorite traveled to Anaheim for the 76 Classic and faced Minnesota, UCLA, and Clemson. To come on the schedule after Georgetown is Ohio State and Xavier.

With two losses already against Clemson and Minnesota, Butler desperately needs to begin knocking off its remaining quality opponents. The Horizon League isn't strong enough to rely on dominating league play to solidify an NCAA bid if Butler slips up in the Horizon League Tournament.

So beating Georgetown is critical.

For the Hoyas, beating the Bulldogs isn't necessary to help secure a future NCAA Tournament bid. But it is important for John Thompson III's team to win this game to show the Hoyas they'll compete in a surprisingly strong Big East.

Right now, Georgetown has played one of the statistically worst schedules in the country and a narrow win against Temple is the only thing that can be used to gauge how good the Hoyas are.

Like Butler, Georgetown is about to enter a stretch of games that should define the Hoyas. After the tilt against the Bulldogs, the Hoya Saxa play Washington, Old Dominion, and Harvard as well as Duke in the middle of conference play.

A win would send both schools in the right direction entering the most critical portions of their non-conference schedules.

The second game Tuesday night features two teams that just need wins to show they'll be able to compete in conference play.

Pittsburgh is still short-handed from early season injuries and suspensions, but also lacks talent as four starters from last year's team either graduated or went pro.

The Panthers have a respectable early season loss to second ranked Texas, but also barely snuck past Wofford (won by three at home) and Jamie Dixon's team was tied with Youngstown State with 11 minutes remaining.

That doesn't sound like the Pitt Panthers of old or a team that can compete in the Big East. A win against Indiana doesn't mean much considering the Hoosiers likely won't finish higher than ninth in the Big 10.

A convincing win could at least demonstrate Pitt will stand a chance to finish in the top half of the conference.

Indiana is in a similar boat as Pittsburgh, but for different reasons. Tom Crean's attempt to rebuild the Hoosiers' once proud program has been slow, but not without hope.

Last year was a disaster on the court, but it didn't keep Crean from hauling in one of the best recruiting classes in the Big 10. Combine this year's class with all the experience last year's freshman received and things are looking up in Indiana.

A win against Pittsburgh won't mean Indiana will be an NCAA Tournament contender. It probably won't mean the Hoosiers are a top seven team in the conference.

But it will instill confidence in Crean's young players that they can compete with the boy bigs. It will show recruits the Hoosiers aren't far from being a top 20 team once again.

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