After winning the first 10 games on their Big East schedule and looking like the prohibitive favorites to win their fourth regular season title in five seasons, the ‘Cats have suddenly lost two of their last three and look vulnerable. Wednesday night’s opponents, opponents, however, are a curious team in that they have the talent on some nights to completely take advantage of this vulnerability but also the inconsistency where this could be a revitalizing bounce-back game for Jay Wright’s squad.
The Georgetown Hoyas, at 5-7 in conference play, fit the outline of a young talented team to a tee. They have three scorers averaging more than 13 points, but their 2nd through 4th leading scorers are all freshmen. And as Villanova fans know from the Saddiq Bey’s success and the Jahvon Quinerly Mystery, it’s exciting when young players succeed and all fans are (irrationally?)desperate for them to do so. But relying on them can also backfire, as their inconsistency and lack of experience is almost sure to rear its head at inopportune times. Joint leading freshman scorer and Instagram star Mac McClung left Georgetown’s first clash against Villanova having scored only 4 points and 4th leading scorer Josh LeBlanc tallied only five. Freshman James Akinjo, for his part, had 19. Now, that does not mean that young players slumping throws a team’s chances out the window, but this happened to be the same game where senior leading scorer and star center Jesse Govan got into foul trouble early and put up a goose-egg.
Going into this matchup, despite Georgetown’s struggles overall, look out for them to give them ‘Cats a good challenge. It goes without saying that even if Villanova gets out to an early lead, this one is far from over. Govan and Akinjo, as well as role players Jamorko Pickett and Greg Malinowski are dangerous shooters from beyond the arc that could help the Hoyas cut into any deficit, while McClung and LeBlanc are dynamic athletes who are threats to make the most of that ability on both ends of the floor.
Coming off an already embarrassing loss against St. John’s and facing the threat of falling behind Marquette in the title chase, look for the ‘Cats to take care of business on the Hill. Beyond that, Jay Wright has done an impressive job game-planning opposing freshmen stars(ok, and his own) out of games. Against Marquette with Joey Houser, Providence with David Duke and A.J. Reeves, and this Georgetown team with McClung the first time, the ‘Cats have beaten teams by exploiting their freshmen’s inexperience. If Wright can do that again, Villanova should keep pace with Marquette as we edge closer to the de facto title match.