Just like last year, we’re giving you three reasons to hate each of Georgetown’s Big East opponents. First up, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The Joyce Center
Georgetown played more games on the road than it did at home during its nonconference schedule. That’s unheard of for a top-25 team; Syracuse usually doesn’t leave the state of New York until January. So of course, John Thompson III’s reward for building a challenging schedule is opening up Big East play on the road. And of all places, it’s at the Joyce Center (or more irritatingly, the Purnell Pavilion at the Joyce Center), against No. 15 Notre Dame. At least Georgetown will be well-prepared.
Despite being better known for their football team, the Golden Domers turn out strong for hoops as well. The Joyce Center offers one of the better home court advantages in the Big East, inspiring the Fighting Irish to separate streaks of 51 and 45 wins at home in the past decade.
The Hoyas have won at Notre Dame just once since 2002, and even then, in 2006, it took two overtimes to prevail. The only time any current Hoya has ventured to South Bend was two seasons ago, when Luke Harangody led the Irish to a 73-67 victory. Now, Georgetown’s seniors have one last chance to win in a building whose Wikipedia page has a section devoted to all the upsets it has hosted.
Once we reach the Big East schedule, there’s no shortage of opposing players who are deserving of your hatred, thanks to the history of seasons past and a generally higher level of talent. But Hansbrough stands above his teammates because of his genes. The senior guard is the brother of Tyler Hansbrough, who you may remember as the power forward from the recent North Carolina powerhouse teams, or from the end of the Indiana Pacers’ bench. The younger Hansbrough doesn’t inspire quite the same insufferable Dickie V-praise his brother did, but that’s no reason to go easy on him.
Ben does unfortunately have one thing in common with his brother–he’s pretty good at basketball. He’s second on the Irish in scoring with just over 15 points per game, and he can knock down threes with the best of them. Last season, he dropped 21 points to lead Notre Dame to a blowout victory over Georgetown. Even if he had a different name on the back of his jersey, there’s plenty of reason to root against him.
They kicked us while we were down
Last season, the Fighting Irish dealt the Hoyas a crushing 78-64 defeat at the Verizon Center in one of the final games of the regular season. It was a game to forget. The ensuing Big East and NCAA tournament roller coaster made it easy to, or maybe I was just blinded by Georgetown’s special jerseys. Either way, don’t allow the 14-point defeat to get lost in the late-season tumult of the Hoyas’ last campaign.
What Notre Dame did must be avenged, and not just because they embarrassed us on our home court. They did it while Austin Freeman was hobbled with what were then called flu-like symptoms. Freeman tried his best to emulate Michael Jordan, but only managed five points in 23 minutes–probably because he wasn’t dealing with the flu, but complications from untreated Type 1 diabetes.
Tonight, the Irish will have to contend with a healthy Freeman. And most importantly, neither he nor his teammates have forgotten what happened last year:
“It’s an important game in large part because they killed us here last year,” [Chris] Wright said. “So, in a way, we have a chip on our shoulders.”