When Georgetown got dunked out of the gym by a ridiculously under-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in 2013, JT3 said he didn’t have an answer for another season-ending defeat in the first weekend of the tournament. It was the 5th consecutive “too early” loss for the Hoyas in March. All five of those “too early” losses were to double-digit seeds and three of the losses weren’t close.
JT3 didn’t have an answer for those losses because in the moment, there wasn’t an easy one. Many pundits pointed to their so-called “Princeton” offense which they really don’t run that much or their pace of play that tends to keep lesser teams close. All of that is way overrated. Here’s something closer to the answer. Bad luck.
The Hoyas haven’t been out of the first weekend of the tournament in their last five opportunities because they were matched up against under-seeded teams who were playing great at the time. You can roll your eyes all you want and true, their 2010 loss to Ohio wouldn’t necessarily fit into that narrative but how ’bout the others.
In 2008, they lost to a very good Davidson team led by Steph Curry. Davidson got to the Elite 8 after beating Georgetown in the round of 32 and they were one shot away from the Final 4.
In 2011, they got beat by VCU who went on to the Final 4.
In 2012, it was an N.C. State team on a roll. The Wolfpack may have been an 11-seed but they were the 4th-place team in the ACC. Losing to them was far from embarrassing.
Then there was the 2013 loss to Florida Gulf Coast. Make no mistake, Florida Gulf Coast was the better team that night in Philadelphia. They were the more athletic team and they played with incredible energy and swagger. Georgetown’s 78-68 loss should’ve been worse. Great free throw shooting is usually paramount in a 15-seed upsetting a 2-seed but Gulf Coast missed 14 for the game. A true 15-seed doesn’t dunk the 2-seed out of the gym. Bottom line, the Hoyas drew a 15-seed that looked like a 4-seed and Gulf Coast proved it by advancing all the way to the Sweet 16.
The only loss that lacks a reasonable explanation was the blowout loss to Ohio in ’10. That Ohio team finished below .500 in their league but got hot and won their conference tournament. Still, of the five “too early” losses, that’s the lone head-scratcher.
I think the Hoyas’ underperfoming run in the tournament can be chalked up primarily to the proverbial “bad matchup”. Is tonight’s matchup against Eastern Washington another one? Gary Williams spoke with Gonzaga coach Mark Few a few days ago and Few told him to watch out for a team close to his geographically. He told Gary that Eastern Washington “is legit good.” Uh oh.
All of the reasons for getting bounced early no matter how legitimate creates an added pressure for the Hoyas tonight. Regardless of why, they’ve fallen short of expectations and it’s created a burden. A burden that won’t be lifted until winning in mid-March starts.