Commence the Madness: Hoyas earn 4-seed in NCAA Tournament, will face 13-seed Eastern Washington Thursday

They’re dancing.

The Georgetown men’s basketball team (21-10, 12-6 Big East) earned an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament Sunday night. Slated as a 4-seed in the South Regional bracket by the Tournament Selection Committee, the Hoyas will matchup against 13-seed Eastern Washington (26-8, 14-4 Big Sky) Thursday night in Portland, Oregon. Tip-off is set for approximately 9:57 p.m. EST.

The Blue and Gray welcomed students, fans, family and friends, with them to O’Donovan Dining Hall for a party to await their selection in the tournament field. The assembled crowd then erupted when Georgetown was announced as one of the 68 teams to earn an invite, marking the 30th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.

“Making it to the Tournament is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s special,” said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III, who has now made the NCAA Tournament eight times in his 11 seasons on the Hilltop, to reporters afterwards.

After missing the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 2009, this year’s invitation to the tournament feels even more sweeter to the Hoyas.

“Being able to sit here… it’s something that every team, every fanbase doesn’t get to experience. It does feel good after missing out after last year,” Thompson said.

Players such as senior guard Jabril Trawick are excited to be a part of the tournament field. For the senior leader Trawick, it represents his last chance to earn a national championship.

“I’m just going to give everything I got,” Trawick said. “There’s nothing else to do, nothing else to be said, but to just give it my all. So that’s what I’m going to do.”

While most NCAA bracket prognosticators, such as ESPN’s renowned Joe Lunardi, had the Hoyas seeded lower, an initially surprised Thompson gave the reasons he believes his team earned it. Thompson’s squad had a national RPI of 25 along with playing the 8th toughest schedule in the country.

“It speaks to the strength of our schedule. It speaks to the strength of our league. And the strength of our team,” he said.

With regards to the Hoyas’ opposition, Eastern Washington, Thompson admitted that he has watched a few of their games in passing this year and knows his team will have their hands full. Winners of the Big Sky Conference Tournament, the Eagles are the third-highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 80.8 points per game.

“They can put points on the board quickly. Our defense is going to have to be outstanding,” Thompson said.

The Eagles boast the leading scorer in all of college basketball, sophomore guard Tyler Harvey, who has averaged 22.9 points per game.

“He puts the ball in the basket in an assortment of ways. You don’t score as many points as he did, without being very very good,” said Thompson of Harvey. “Everyone in the country in every game that he’s played this year has said, ‘We’re going to stop that guy.’ And no one has done it yet.”

While many Georgetown fans may not be familiar with Eastern Washington, they have an impressive résume, as they defeated Indiana, a 10-seed in the Tournament, 88-86 at famed Assembly Hall on Nov. 24. The Hoyas defeated the same Indiana team in 91-87 in overtime, albeit on a neutral floor at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Dec. 28.

“I think that gets lost sometimes. I think a lot of the times the person, as a fan, you’re looking at a team that you haven’t really seen or heard about,” Thompson said. “But everyone’s good. Out of the 68 teams that are still playing. None of them are weak.”

The Hoyas enter the NCAA Tournament having won six of their last eight games. In their last game, the Big East Tournament semifinal against Xavier, the Hoyas cut a 20-point deficit with eight minutes left to one but ultimately, fell 65-63. Thompson, however, likes his team’s chances this weekend.

“The loss the other day was difficult,” Thompson said. “But overall, I do like the way we’re playing. And I’m excited to get to work.

Vox will be traveling cross-country to the Moda Center in Portland to cover the game on Thursday. Stay tuned to Vox for all things Georgetown basketball during their run in the NCAA Tournament.

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