Villanova seemed disorganized and unfocused in their narrow victory over UPenn, perhaps because the Wildcats overlooked their final Big 5 opponent with their sights set on a showdown with Georgetown.
The Hoyas, however, are coming off one of the most impressive wins of their season over the Butler Bulldogs at home. Freshman Isaac Copeland hit the game-winning three pointer from the corner to fend off the Bulldogs and 28 points from Roosevelt Jones.
This game, however, is more than just another Big East matchup. Georgetown leads the all-time series against Villanova 31-42. but the Wildcats have Georgetown to thank for their lone championship banner. Monday night will be yet another chapter in this epic battle between college basketball heavyweights.
The Man in the Middle
Daniel Ochefu has been fantastic this season, whether in his 19-point, 24-rebound performance against Seton Hall or a critical run he sparked against St. John's to lead the Wildcats to victory.
Ochefu will have his hands full, however, matching up with one of the largest players in college basketball: Joshua Smith. Smith averages 12.4 points per contest in only 22 minutes per game, and has caused series problems for opposing teams with his repertoire of post moves and creative passing ability.
There is one problem with Smith, however; he has been known to get into foul trouble very quickly. Of course, we all know what the Wildcats must do. Whether it be feeding the post or penetrating to the basket, the Wildcats would have a major advantage if Smith could spend most of the game on the sidelines rather than camping out on the low block.
With Georgetown at home, however, the 'Cats can't count on getting Smith into foul trouble. This game, therefore, will likely be another test for Ochefu, who has terrorized smaller opponents but hasn't had the greatest success in games against the elite big men in the conference. Ochefu recorded six points and six rebounds against Xavier's Matt Stainbrook, whose style of play and overall size is similar to that of Joshua Smith.
This isn't to say that Ochefu always needs to be a double-double machine for Villanova to win. It would, however, be a pleasant surprise to see 'The Chef' dominate an elite man-in-the-middle like Joshua Smith.
Georgetown is best known for the tandem of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Joshua Smith, but the x-factors for the Hoyas always seem to be the freshmen trio of Isaac Copeland, LJ Peak, and Paul White.
From the start of the season, it was clear that Peak had the most to contribute this season for Georgetown. Peak recorded 23 points in his first game at Georgetown and is averaging close to 10 points per game over the course of the season. For a team that needed a boost in the backcourt alongside Smith-Rivera, Peak's performance this season has been critical to his team's success.
White is one of the more underrated players on the Hoyas. Coming into the season, the Chicago product came in with fewer expectations than the other freshmen. His composed, confident style has helped the bench production for Georgetown thus far this season.
Meanwhile, Copeland struggled to find minutes early on in the season but is quickly showing flashes of potential that made his one of the conference's most highly regarded freshmen. His game-winner against Butler should do wonders for his confidence as his game continues to mature.
Keep an eye out for these three youngsters on Monday. We will be seeing plenty of them over the next four years.
Georgetown could use a Big Win
The Hoyas are currently 12-5. Once a top-25 team, the Hoyas have suffered a few losses (even if against good teams) that have dropped them toward the middle of the pack in the Big East.
A home game against Villanova is exactly the game they need to win to make a push in the standings. The Hoyas' wins over Creighton and Marquette don't mean too much, and white the Butler win was impressive, they were blown-out by Xavier on New Year's Eve and lost to Providence as well.
Of course, many other teams in the Big East will bring their best effort against Villanova. For a Georgetown team itching for a big win, there would be no better time to do so than against their rival at their home stadium.
The Wildcats have to recognize this and not become complacent, as we saw against UPenn. When Villanova plays with pace and energy, they are absolutely a top team in the country. Conversely, the lackadaisical Wildcats team we've seen from time-to-time this season cannot show up against conference opponents, especially in enemy territory.