Following a tough 80-82 double-overtime loss against the upstart Radford Highlanders (1-0), the Georgetown Hoyas (0-1) visit the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins (1-0) in what many pundits and fans have dubbed the “Battle for D.C.” In 2008, the last time these two teams met, the Hoyas were a young team, with then-freshman center Greg Monroe anchoring a talented Georgetown squad. On the other side of the court, then-junior guard Greivis Vasquez led the way for the Terrapins. The Hoyas dominated the Terrapins, winning 75-48 in only the third meeting of the two teams since 1980.
Despite starting this season nationally ranked and predicted to make a deep run into March, the Hoyas’ win against the Terrapins was one of the few bright spots in a season ultimately marked by underachievement. Georgetown finished unranked at 16-15 and exited the National Invitation Tournament in the first round. Conversely, Maryland had few expectations but eventually made a surprising run into the NCAA tournament behind the stellar play of Vasquez.
This time, the roles are reversed. The Hoyas star senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, while the Terrapins boast freshman phenom center Diamond Stone.
“You got to do your work early. He’s an excellent rim runner,” Head Coach John Thompson III said of how the Hoyas will respond to Stone’s high level of play.
Senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes — who made his first career start this past Saturday, recording 19 points and 12 rebounds — will take on the majority of the responsibility in terms of guarding Stone.
“I have to do my work early to stop him from getting where he wants,” Hayes said. “He’s a very skilled big. He can score offensively. If he gets the ball where he wants it, it’s going to go in the rim.”
Outside of Stone, Maryland also boasts one of the nation’s best players in sophomore guard Melo Trimble. After averaging 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season, Trimble has only improved his game and looks to win the matchup against Smith-Rivera. Despite both having played high school basketball in Virginia, the two have never faced each other.
“He’s a good player,” Smith-Rivera said of Trimble. “I’ve seen him play and work out, but I’ve never played against him.”
In another matchup of firsts, the two programs will face each other as part of the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games, a set of Big East on Big Ten matchups in honor of the founder of the Big East, Dave Gavitt.
Besides the series of Big East on Big Ten matches to come in future seasons, there is plenty riding on this matchup alone. The Georgetown-Maryland rivalry is a historic one, and Hayes has understood the significance of this rivalry throughout his time at Georgetown.
“I knew about [the rivalry] since my freshman year. People talk, and both schools want bragging rights over the other,” Hayes said.
Both coaches also acknowledge the importance of the game. Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon, who led Maryland to a 28-7 campaign last season, knows the game will be an all-around exciting experience for coaches, players and fans alike.
“I have a lot of respect for J.T. III and the program he has built at Georgetown. This is a game everyone will be looking forward to this season, and it will be really fun for our team, our students and our fans to experience a Maryland-Georgetown game at Xfinity Center,” Turgeon said.
Looking past the rivalry and territorial battle, this game is also a chance for Georgetown to post an excellent nonconference tournament win after a disappointing loss. This may be Georgetown’s only opportunity to notch a win against a ranked nonconference opponent, with Wisconsin falling from the Top 25 and no guarantee of playing Duke in the 2K Classic this coming weekend.
Sophomore forward Paul White, who sat out against Radford, is questionable for the game. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. on the Big Ten Network and ESPN2.