Plenty of Wildcats fans had this matchup circled on their calendar before the season began. Unfortunately, while No. 3 Villanova (26-4, 15-2 Big East) has lived up to its lofty preseason expectations, Georgetown (14-16, 7-10 Big East) has disappointed. At noon on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, the Hoyas will have a chance to put an exclamation point on their season, while the Wildcats will look to get a final tune up heading into postseason play. Here are three things to look for:
Is John Thompson III's job on the line?
There's been plenty of noise coming from fans, the press, and social media questioning the job security of the Georgetown head coach, and rightfully so. The Hoyas, who have lost eight of their last nine games, are having their worst season since 2004 when they went 13-15 under then coach Craig Esherick. Esherick was fired, and the following season Thompson took over.
Over the last three seasons, Georgetown has been ranked no higher than #21 in the AP poll, and it hasn't made it past the Round of 32 since 2007. It may be too late to save Thompson's job at this point, but a win on the road against the best team in the conference and a noted rival may just be enough to make the Georgetown administration pause about firing their longtime coach.
Expect a battle for points inside the arc
The Wildcats have continued to be a well-oiled offensive machine when attacking the rim and generating shots inside the three point line. The 'Cats are third in the nation in two-point field goal percentage (57.1%), and have ranked in the top three for nearly the entire season. Georgetown is no slouch at defending two-pointers, however. It ranks 28th in defensive two-point percentage. Villanova shot 51.7% from inside the arc in the January 16 matchup between these two teams, which helped to offset a 3-of-18 shooting performance from downtown in 'Nova's 55-50 win at the Verizon Center. Look for Georgetown to try to do a better job of locking down the paint and force the Wildcats to win the game from three-point territory.
Mikal Bridges vs. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera
In that January 16 game, Georgetown's top player, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was held to only three second half points, in large part due to the defense of Mikal Bridges. After Smith-Rivera balled out in the first half, 'Nova coach Jay Wright sic'ed his defensive stopper on the 6-3 point guard, and Bridges length and athleticism swallowed him whole. Smith-Rivera finished with an ORtg of 79 and turned the ball over six times. Expect to see more of the same Saturday, and if Bridges can take Smith-RIvera out of the game once again, the Hoyas will be hard-pressed to pull off the upset.
And, oh yeah...