Watching the Connecticut/Georgetown game should have been enough of a clue that some interesting things were likely to happen on Saturday. In what was essentially two games for the price of one the Hoyas came back to win 72-69 at the Verizon Center, their fourth consecutive win over the Huskies. The first twenty minutes went about as well as the Huskies could have hoped, shooting 50% from both the field and from three (4-8) on their way to a seemingly commanding 40-25 lead. Georgetown shot just 29.6% from the field and had eight turnovers to just four assists.
It's the biggest Saturday of the season thus far in regards to games played with 135 games on the schedule. The afternoon delivers two of the many important contests, with Connecticut visiting Georgetown and Duke taking on Georgia Tech. The Huskies are ranked thirteenth in the polls right now but they lack a headline victory, something that can be attained at the Verizon Center. UConn's "big three" of Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Kemba Walker rank among the nation's best when they're on; they key for them is consistency.
The final big day of games before Chrismas will offer up a couple of games in which ranked teams should be wary of the upset. Georgetown, looking to recover from their disappointing loss to Old Dominion over the weekend, will host an equally dangerous team in Harvard at noon. One big reason why the Crimson have a shot: senior guard Jeremy Lin, who's already scored thirty in a loss at Connecticut and led Harvard to their second consecutive win over Boston College. The Palo Alto native can get his own shot as well as set up his teammates, which will make him a tough matchup for the Hoyas.
Is it time to rank Frank Martin's Wildcats? They had an argument before their game against #17 UNLV at Orleans Arena on Saturday evening and if they aren't ranked following the 95-80 win expect some angry fans in the Little Apple. Guards Jacob Pullen (28 points) and Denis Clemente (22 points, nine assists) took control of the game and didn't let go until the verdict was essentially decided early in the second half. As a team the Wildcats shot 57.1% from the field and made more than sixty percent of their shots from behind the arc while limiting the Runnin' Rebels to 28.6% from distance.
The Jimmy V Classic annually brings together four programs for a night of basketball and a great cause: to raise money for the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. But one couldn't help but to notice the importance of Tuesday night's game against Butler (and their game against Washington on Saturday in the Wooden Classic) to a Georgetown squad whose biggest test came against Temple.
After what could best be described as a "boring" night of college hoops Tuesday brings the Jimmy V Classic in New York as well as a few non-conference games that could also have an impact come March. Butler and Georgetown play in the opener at MSG and with both teams running versatile offensive systems with some skilled players it should be a close battle. The Hoyas' stiffest test came against Temple and they needed a basket late in regulation to knock off the Owls.
Ranking players is more art then science. How do you compare the potential of freshmen with seniors who have already peaked? How much does physical talent come into play versus intangibles and experience? How big a role do numbers play?