Senior Chris Wright quarterbacks Georgetown with 6.3 assists per game.
The Georgetown Hoyas and Notre Dame Fighting Irish have their Big East Conference opener Wednesday night with a top-25 matchup from South Bend, Indiana.
Big East play began Monday with No. 4 Connecticut losing at No. 6 Pittsburgh (78-63) as 7 ½-point ‘dogs. There are an amazing seven conference teams ranked in the Coaches Poll top-20, including No. 9 Georgetown and No. 15 Notre Dame.
The Hoyas are 11-1 straight-up, but also 9-2 against the spread, one of the best marks in the country. Their last game was Thursday, an 86-69 road win at No. 17 Memphis as four-point favorites.
The senior guard combination of Austin Freeman and Chris Wright combined for 43 points, while forward Julian Vaughn had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The 155 combined points scored went ‘over’ the 145-point total. The ‘over’ is 5-1 in Georgetown’s six road and neutral site games this year.
Coach John Thompson III has a perimeter oriented offense after losing center Greg Monroe to the NBA. Georgetown Hoyas would have been a top-5 preseason team if the big man returned for his junior year.
Georgetown’s three-guard lineup of Freeman, Wright and Jason Clark combine for 57.5 percent of its 80.5 PPG (ranked 18th nationally). Team field goal shooting is a very impressive 52.5 percent (second in the nation).
It’s important for Thompson to keep getting offensive contributions from the 6-foot-9 Vaughn (9.5 PPG) and 6-foot-7 forward Hollis Thompson (8.5 PPG). Freeman won’t continue to shoot 56.8 percent from the field in Big East play and more inside scoring will be needed.
The Hoyas are certainly battle tested at 6-1 SU and ATS in non home games. The only loss was 68-65 as two-point favorites at Temple on Dec. 9. They beat then No. 8 Missouri 111-102 in OT in a ‘neutral site’ pickem game in Kansas City.
The Irish (11-1 SU, 4-3 ATS) weren’t expected to be a top-25 team after losing leading scorer and rebounder Luke Harangody (21.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG), one of the most productive players in Big East history. The veteran leadership of point guard Tory Jackson (5.3 APG) was also a big loss.
Notre Dame is making up for its lack of star power with five senior starters, four of them ranging from 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-8. There isn’t a true starting point guard with Ben Hansbrough more of a combo. He leads team in assists (4.0 per game), with each starter scoring between 9.6 PPG and 16.1 PPG.
The Irish last played on Wednesday against winless Maryland-Baltimore City. The 93-53 win didn’t have a pointspread, one of five non-lined games this year. Notre Dame is 8-0 SU at home, but just 1-2 ATS. The only tough home game was an 83-79 win over Gonzaga on Dec. 11, failing to ‘cover’ the 8 ½-point spread.
Notre Dame has seen other tough opponents, including neutral site games against Kentucky (72-58 loss) and Wisconsin (58-51 win).
Depth is a concern for the Irish with freshman point guard Erik Atkins the only sub averaging over 11.2 minutes per game. Georgetown does have a quickness advantage in the backcourt and Atkins will need to be paired with Hansbrough often.
The Irish finished strong in the Big East regular season and tournament last year, 6-2 SU and 8-0 ATS. That allowed them to make the NCAA Tournament (first round loss to Old Dominion).
Notre Dame is 2-0 SU and ATS in the last two games against Georgetown. The only game last year was Feb. 27, a 78-64 road win as 10 ½-point ‘dogs.
ESPN2 will have the tip-off from Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center at 4 p.m. (PT).