The Georgetown Hoyas fell meekly to the Connecticut Huskies, 79-62, in their first Big East Tournament game earlier today, their fourth straight loss since Chris Wright's injury. These aren't close losses either -- the four games have seen Georgetown fall by an average of 14.25 points per game.
Wright's absence has manifested itself in ways you wouldn't immediately expect. Julian Vaughn, for example, has gone from a relatively competent big man to one who, quite literally, cannot make a shot. The Princeton offense still has created some open shots, but the defense has fallen off a cliff and those open shots are not going down. It's been a very ugly situation, to say the least.
So now, the question is obvious. With Wright scheduled to return by the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, what seed will the Hoyas earn in the NCAA Tournament? What seed do they even deserve? Should they fall all the way down to a No. 7 or No. 8 seed, as ESPN commentators suggested after the game? Is a No. 6 seed fair, which is where SBNation.com currently has them? Some thoughts and historical parallels below the jump.
We should first qualify the two Georgetown teams. With Chris Wright healthy and in the lineup, the Hoyas were 21-6 and 10-5 in the Big East, with a top-10 RPI and wins over likely NCAA Tournament teams Old Dominion (on the road), Missouri (essentially on the road), St. John's, Villanova (on the road), Louisville, Syracuse (on the road) and Marquette. They would likely have been a No. 3 seed or higher had things continued the way they did. Without Wright healthy, the Hoyas are 0-4 with the aforementioned -14.25 point differential.
It'd be tempting to assume the Hoyas just go back to being a No. 3 seed with Wright healthy, but the selection committee won't and shouldn't see it that way. They will wonder whether Wright is fully healthy, since it will only be three weeks since he had hand surgery. They will wonder if Wright will be out of rhythm from missing so much action. Most notably, they'll wonder if Wright will even play at all or whether the Hoyas' stance on him is merely a way to prevent the massive seed drop they would get if the selection committee knew he wasn't going to play.
So if we're going to guess Georgetown's NCAA Tournament seed, we have to consider some past parallels. Here are some that immediately jump to mind.
Purdue, last season: The Boilermakers were heading towards a possible number one seed until Robbie Hummel suffered a torn ACL. The Boilermakers went 3-2, losing to Michigan State and then to Minnesota in blowout fashion in the Big 10 Tournament. The selection committee dropped them all the way to a No. 4 seed, though of course that was in part because everyone knew Hummel wasn't coming back. They ended up winning two games and falling to Duke in the Sweet 16.
St. Mary's, 2008/09: The Gaels started off 18-1 before Patty Mills suffered a broken hand (sound familiar?). St. Mary's lost four of the five games it played without Mills, then saw him return for the WCC Tournament. In the WCC Tournament, Mills wasn't 100 percent, and the Gaels were destroyed by Gonzaga in the conference title game. The committee responded by leaving St. Mary's out of the field together, despite only losing twice with Mills healthy. Not a good sign.
Wisconsin, 2006/07: Wisconsin was 26-3 when Butch suffered an elbow injury, which dropped them down to a No. 2 seed. Without Butch, the Badgers lost to UNLV in the second round.
Cincinnati, 1999/00: The consensus No. 1 team in the country lost star and eventual No. 1 pick Kenyon Martin to a broken leg in the Conference USA Tournament final, and in a stroke of guess work, the committee dropped Cincinnati down to a No. 2 seed. This was a massive risk either way because they had to project Cincinnati's performance without Martin instead of being able to see it beforehand, so this was a compromise. Cincinnati ultimately lost to No. 7 seed Tulsa in the second round.
Loyola Marymount, 1989/90: The run-and-gun LMU team was ranked in the Top 25, but were dropped to a No. 11 seed after the collapse and death of Hank Gathers in the WCC Tournament. Ultimately, LMU rallied and made it all the way to the Sweet 16 without him.
The bottom line from these examples is that Georgetown will be dropped to a seed much lower than they would have been if Wright stayed healthy. Even with him returning, the committee won't assume he'll return fully healthy. That means that a No. 7 or No. 8 seed, however ridiculous, may be a legitimate possibility.
(Thanks to Andy Glockner's article from last season for helping with many of these examples).