Loss of Wright Could Kill Hoyas
Many teams in the hunt for the best slots in the NCAA tournament this season are just an injury away from a significant lowering of expectations. Georgetown is one of those teams. They are driven by a three-headed monster of SG Jason Clark, SF Austin Freeman & PGChris Wright – all who play more than 30 minutes a game. Unfortunately for JT3 and his Hoyas, that injury bug bit them hard last night with Wright breaking his non-shooting hand. Where do the Hoyas go from here?
There is a silver lining somewhere because fortunate news came from the incident that occurred during last night’s loss to Cincinnati at home. Wright was expected to be out for the rest of the season, but he had surgery today and the school says he will be available for the tournament. That being said, it might be too late.
You could already see the immediate effects from the loss of Wright last night. The game was tied at 26 at halftime. Wright had injured the hand late in the first half, but decided to keep playing with a brace. A guy who normally plays 35 minutes a game came out after the break and missed his first two shots then took himself out of the game. Next thing you know the Hoyas are down 10 and eating the dust of the Bearcats. Austin Freeman is the Hoyas’ best player, but Chris Wright is their leader and you could tell the squad missed him dearly down the stretch.
The loss of Wright could have a rippling effect on Big East positioning and possibly the last teams selected into the big dance. The Hoyas have two games remaining (Syracuse, @ Cincy) and last night’s loss put them on the outside looking in for the crucial double-bye in the Big East tourney. It also put Cincy firmly in the dance which in turn gives the Big East a definite 10 teams in by my calculations. Add that to the fact the now-depleted Hoyas could draw Marquette early in NYC, giving the Golden Eagles a chance at a much needed top 20 win that could rise that increase the number of BE selections to 11.
From the Hoyas perspective, if they lose the next 3 games they play in the absence of Wright (which is a distinct possibility), they could drop from the home-protected top 4 seeds and get shipped out West. As of yesterday morning before the loss, The Bracket Matrix had the Hoyas as a solid 3-seed with none of the 60+ projected brackets the website uses putting them outside a #3. 5 of the “bracketologists” actually had the Hoyas as a #1 seed.
What Georgetown does have going for them is a projected #1 RPI strength of schedule and a current #7 ranking, which shouldn’t drop too bad should they drop a couple down the stretch. The selection committee might even give them the benefit of the doubt if Wright is deemed healthy going into the first round. They are a goofy bunch of squirrels when it comes to injuries to key players in terms of seeding, so what they will do is nearly impossible to predict.
I had Georgetown in my personal preseason Final 4 due to the fact a mature Wright in addition to Freeman, Clark and serviceable big-man Julian Wright seemed like the right mix for a run in March. This injury, however, would scratch that prognostication. A Hoya team without Wright in March would be a completely different team (obviously) and not as sexy of a pick for most.
If Wright comes back healthy, I’m back on board. However, these next two weeks of rehab will determine whether or not the Hoyas will be a player in March Madness.
Special from CollegeBasketballTalk.com. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobJonesLyes