It's that time again. It usually only happens once or twice a year, and this is our first of two opportunities to see it. What am I talking about? Kansas leaving the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse and playing a true road game. This week, it is against the better-than-expected Georgetown Hoyas. To help get us ready for this matchup, I sat down with CasualHoya, from the SBNation site of the same name.
RCT: Having finished 18-15 last year with a second-round exit in the NIT and losing 3 seniors, what were the expectations for the Hoyas coming into the season?
CH: I'd say the primary expectation for the program was just getting back to the Dance. The NIT was fun and all as Georgetown got to beat West Virginia on our cute on-campus gym, but the Big East needs Georgetown in the Dance. Being an NCAA Tournament team is so important; for recruiting, for fan base morale, for page views for a Global Phenomenon blog like Casual Hoya.
RCT: Even with Jamari Traylor suspended for the game, Kansas still has a formidable lineup with Perry Ellis, Cliff Alexander and Landen Lucas. Who do the Hoyas have to match up with these guys?
CH: Though Georgetown's frontcourt could be considered one of its weaknesses in the recent past, this season the frontcourt has performed impressively. Anchored by seniors Josh Smith and Mikael Hopkins, the frontcourt has matched up well against both Florida and Wisconsin - teams that arguably have better guys up-front than Kansas. For the Hoyas to have success against the Jayhawks, both Smith and Hopkins will need to stay on the floor and avoid foul trouble. Cliff Alexander has NBA talent, but Georgetown's freshmen forwards Paul White and Isaac Copeland are more than capable of giving him problems.
RCT: Georgetown has actually been rather impressive so far this year, hanging tough with Wisconsin and Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis and winning every other game they have played. Which players have been the key to their success so far this season?
CH: Why thank you! It truly has been a team effort thus far, as a number of different guys have led the team in scoring on any given night. Big East Preseason Player of the Year D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera is our best player and can score from anywhere, freshman wing LJ Peak set a Georgetown record for points in his debut, and of course Josh Smith is a force in the paint. In addition to those three, freshmen Paul White and Isaac Copeland have both impressed, and seniors Mikael Hopkins, Jabril Trawick and Aaron Bowen have also contributed mightily to the cause. Georgetown's depth is one of its strengths this season, which is refreshing as hell for the fanbase.
RCT: Which matchups in this game give the Hoyas the biggest advantage? Which ones are the biggest areas of concern?
CH: The Jayhawks have size up front, and if the Hoyas bigs get into foul trouble early I can see Kansas trying to take advantage of that by pounding it down low to Ellis et al. However, the Hoyas offense has been very effective at times when it goes 'small', and unlike JT3 squads in the recent past this team can push the pace and is good in transition. Georgetown's length on the perimeter should be disruptive to Kansas in half-court sets, and Kansas is going to need to mark DSR wherever he is on the floor at all times. As far as areas of concern, that answer is ALL OF THEM, which is my standard answer for any team that the Hoyas face, every season.
RCT: Finally, what is your prediction for the game? Which Kansas team gets off the bus, the one that was overmatched in the first half against Florida, or the one that could seem to do no wrong on its way to storming back for a win?
CH: I think Georgetown wins this game. In my humble yet esteemed and very valuable opinion the Hoyas looked better against Florida than Kansas did, and I think Georgetown has the guys both on the perimeter and in the paint to cause Kansas problems. The key matchup might come down to Mikael Hopkins and Perry Ellis, and while that scares the bejeesus out of me, Hopkins has been sneaky good defensively this season and I think the Hoyas emerge with a 6-7 point win. Hoyas 68 - Jayhawks 61.
A special thanks to CasualHoya for helping us out today. And don't forget to check out the questions I answered for him as well.