John Thompson III and March Madness have got to stop meeting like this.
Thompson is the coach of the Georgetown Hoyas. At least until the NCAA tournament, when his team suddenly turns into the Washington Generals.
In five straight trips to the Big Dance, the Hoyas have been busted out by a double-digit seed. Friday night was the latest and worst: a 78-68 loss for the Big East co-champions to No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast. Last year it was a loss to No. 11 North Carolina State. The year before that it was No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth. In 2010 it was No. 14 Ohio. The Hoyas missed the tournament in 2009, but in '08 they were eliminated by No. 10 Davidson.
Georgetown's seeding: No. 2 this year, No. 3 last year, No. 6 in 2011, No. 3 in '10, No. 2 in '08.
So only one conclusion can be drawn: after going to the Final Four in 2007, Georgetown has simply been an atrocious NCAA team. JTIII has been JTI and done.
Now, it's true that Davidson '08 was an excellent team, advancing to the regional final and coming within a shot of the Final Four. And it's true that VCU was a tourney sensation that stormed all the way to the Final Four.
So maybe FGCU will become the latest and greatest of Final Four Cinderellas. Certainly, it threw the greatest of all NCAA tournament alley-oops: a preposterously brassy lob from Brett Comer, in the final two minutes, while clinging to a disappearing lead, that Chase Fieler grabbed with one hand and slammed home.
I don't think any play the rest of this tourney can top that. In fact, I'd put that alongside the no-no-YES 3-pointer by Northern Iowa's Ali Faroukhmanesh against No. 1 Kansas in 2009 as the boldest Cinderella strikes in NCAA tourney history.
But while there are some individual instances of sneaky-good teams knocking off Georgetown, the pattern cannot be excused or explained away.
Not only has Georgetown been beaten by lightly regarded teams, it has often been beaten down.
Florida Gulf Coast won by 10 but led by as many as 19. North Carolina State led by double digits in the second half and hung on at the end last year. In 2011 the loss to VCU was by 18. The 2010 loss to Ohio was a stem-to-stern whipping that ended up a 14-point margin. Only the Davidson game was a glove-tight affair.
Jamie Dixon is an annual NCAA tourney underachiever at Pittsburgh (including this year). Bo Ryan had some memorable flops at Wisconsin (including this year). But they look like Mike Krzyzewski compared to JTIII.
So Georgetown faces a decision: Does consistent regular-season success – we're talking seven 20-win seasons in the past eight years – matter enough to overlook continual failings at tournament time?
Pitt and Wisconsin have made their decisions: they're very happy to have Dixon and Ryan and take the consistent regular-season winning. Georgetown probably will feel the same way, for a couple of reasons.
One, the school has history and prestige and wants to be good at basketball, but it's not Kentucky or North Carolina or Kansas or Duke. They don't demand national titles or Final Fours on a regular basis at Georgetown.
Two, program patriarch John Thompson is alive and well and in the neighborhood. And the school might hear from him if it had any designs on firing his son.
So I don't think it will happen, nor should it. But the Georgetown powers that be probably would like to win a few games in the tournament, especially as college basketball increasingly becomes all about what happens in March.
You've got to beat somebody eventually, Georgetown. Seriously.
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