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Big East Tournament Preview, Round 2: Back-to-Back, Villanova gets Georgetown again in New York

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The Hoyas hammered DePaul 70-53 in the opening round of the Big East Tournament.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

At 15-17, Georgetown's only hope of an NCAA Tournament bid -- or any postseason bid -- goes through the Wildcats tomorrow. At the lowest point since Craig Esherick was walking the sidelines in Washington, the Hoyas have more talent than their Wednesday opponent, but things get immensely harder when you advance to face the one-seed.

For Villanova, this is an opportunity for business-as-usual. The 'Cats found a groove in Big East play, losing just twice to talented Providence and Xavier teams, and will look to build on that success at Madison Square Garden. Unsurprisingly, KenPom.com has the Wildcats as the favorite on a neutral court, giving them an 11-point projected margin of victory and an 85% chance to advance to Friday.

Here are three (more) things about the Hoyas:

DePaul broke a bad losing streak

The Hoyas lost nine of ten games leading up to this tournament; a February 8th victory over St. Johns was the Hoyas' only win in the month of February. They also lost their final six games heading in Wednesday night's game, despite a couple of close calls -- by three to Providence, an overtime loss against Butler, and a one-point miss against Marquette.

DePaul and St. John's are the only two Big East schools that Georgetown hasn't taken a loss against this season. KenPom's model predicted a nine-point win for the Hoyas, but instead, they showed a little bit of their motivation in the MSG-opener, thumping the Chicago entrants by 17 instead.

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera is still key

If anyone was doubting it, this Georgetown team needs DSR to step up if they're going to go on a run this week. Like that over-performing Syracuse Orange team led by Gerry McNamera in 2006, there can be a Miracle on 33rd Street, but it takes a veteran to put the team on his back.

DSR had 20 points against DePaul, and put up 15 of those in the second half, to help Georgetown put the game to rest. L.J. Peak may have been a top scorer for this team in Saturday's match-up in Philly, but DSR is their go-to-guy on most nights, leading with 16.3 points per game and 4.6 assists. He's also the only player in the league who is in the top-10 in seven statistical categories.

Bradley Hayes will start

Starting center Bradley Hayes saw his first action since February 11th tonight. The senior is averaging just 8.5 points per game, but leads the team in rebounding and blocks with 6.6 and 1.1 per contest. Doing most of his shooting from inside helps, but he's also one of the Hoyas' most efficient offensive players.

He was reportedly out indefinitely in mid-February after surgery on his left hand -- leaving the team shorthanded and without their 7-footer in the post. With Hayes back on the court, it gives the Hoyas an piece that they didn't have in their last meeting with Villanova.

His back-up was freshman Jessie Govan, a 6-10 big man who has the ability to step out and make shots from the perimeter (he's a tick over 48% from deep this season). He has also shown some ability to play with his back to the basket though, and in either case, he can be a threat off the bench.