With the season underway, Georgetown has passed its first test. Now the competition is set to get a lot tougher. After easily dispatching Savannah State, dates with UNC Greenboro and 13th ranked Kansas loom.
The decision to accept an invitation to compete in the Maui Invitational was a smart one in theory and will be a good measure of where Georgetown is as a team.
But, with such a young group of core players—the Hoyas are forced to rely on five freshmen and two sophomores—facing Kansas so early in the season could potentially backfire.
While UNC-Greensboro doesn't appear to be much of a threat, the more experienced Jayhawks certainly will be. If the Hoyas get run off the court, the fragile confidence of their burgeoning, but inexperienced freshmen, could be shattered, adding to the uphill battle the Hoyas already face with their difficult non conference and punishing Big East schedules.
Conversely, if the Hoyas play well and put forth a strong effort in Maui and/or are able to knockoff the favored Jayhawks, such a win will propel Georgetown forward and give them momentum heading into a brutal December lineup of match-ups against top 25 teams.
A sense of self-assurance is critical to young ball clubs. Those who have it thrive and those who don't tend to fall apart very quickly. Georgetown must prepare for Kansas as an almost do-or-die tournament game, as it will set the early tone for their season.
A schedule of Kansas (and potentially UCLA and Duke depending on how far the Hoyas advance in the Maui Invitational), followed by 17th ranked Alabama on the road and a home date with ninth ranked Memphis is a schedule even coaches with experienced teams don't want and was a bit of overzealous planning by the athletic department.
If the Hoyas can come out alive and kicking, it will be a huge boost to their belief that they belong amongst the Big East's six other ranked programs.
Early season November and December games don't often mean much, but with a front-loaded schedule set to pair a young Georgetown squad with some of the country's top teams, these next six weeks will go a long way in determining whether Georgetown has a fighting chance to make the NCAA Tournament come March.
It's always one game at a time in the vaunted Big East, but these next two (especially Kansas) should be given extra importance by the coaching staff.
Prediction for Maui: Georgetown beats UNCG (not really part of the main bracket) and then Kansas and UCLA before succumbing to Duke in championship round.