Hoyas Push for Tournament Positioning Down the Big East Stretch

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Byline: Elliott Smith, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Georgetown's unexpected ascent into the rarified air of the college basketball elite is one of the year's biggest storylines. But with tournament season fast approaching, the Hoyas will have to prove once again their top-10 ranking isn't a result of overinflation.

While Georgetown's players have remained low-key about their rapid rise this season, even they realize a different level of intensity is needed down the stretch.

Around this time, everyone is getting excited for March, and that's part of the game, forward Hollis Thompson said. But at the same time, if you want to be in a good position when it comes to those tournaments, you need to win now. So everybody is still locked in and focused on the games we have at hand.

With five games remaining, starting with Saturday's contest at Providence, the immediate goal for Georgetown (19-5, 9-4) is to maintain a top-four position in the Big East standings and earn one of the coveted double-byes for the conference tournament, which begins March 6 in New York.

That will be a challenge, given that the Hoyas face two teams ahead of them in the standings - streaking Notre Dame (9-3) and rugged Marquette (10-3), whom they have already beaten this year - and a desperate Seton Hall squad fighting to stay on the NCAA tournament bubble.

It's big for us, guard Jason Clark said. We have to hone in and focus on everything that we're supposed to do. The defense has to get tighter, the offense has to get tighter. But we're aconfident team.

Delving into the NCAA tournament at this point of the year becomes a numbers game, as the Ratings Percentage Index and strength of schedule get bandied about in discussing the strengths and weaknesses of tournament-caliber squads.

The Hoyas' profile is relatively strong, with an RPI of 13, a strength of schedule of 16 and a record of 6-3 against the RPI top-50 teams. …