By calling for a GW-Georgetown basketball matchup in a letter this week, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans envisions an event that hasn’t occurred since 1982.
With Wednesday night’s win against Dayton, the men’s basketball team matched its best start (19-1) in more than 50 years. It is clear that D.C. houses two of the nation’s premier teams, and now is the time to create a formal arrangement for a yearly matchup.
The GW-Georgetown rivalry is one that goes beyond the court. Since the teams haven’t played each other for more than 20 years, the rivalry has taken on other dimensions. GW, perennially lower in college rankings and usually less successful in men’s basketball, continues to attract impressive incoming classes and has a basketball team that improves exponentially each year. Georgetown students – in rivalry lore – look down upon their GW neighbors, dubbing its Foggy Bottom neighbors “Georgetown’s Waitlist.”
This rivalry’s dynamic creates the perception that the Hoyas are the top dog, while the Colonials try to catch up. The lopsided nature of the rivalry also creates the perception that GW would have everything to gain from a matchup while Georgetown would only be in a position to lose. A GW win would be considered an upset, a Georgetown loss a tragedy. Should the Hoya’s win, the myth of Georgetown superiority would just remain the status quo.
Even greater obstacles to the matchup than the mentality behind the rivalry are both the NCAA politics and the logistics behind scheduling an out-of-conference game between the two.
Yet, there is precedent for local rivals to play regardless of their squads’ standings. The University of Cincinnati plays Xavier each year. Louisville plays Kentucky. Each of these games shares a similar dynamic to a potential GW-Georgetown contest. By creating interest, revenue and a city-wide event, a local matchup is positive for both schools involved, the local communities and for college basketball in general.
In terms of venue, the Smith Center is inadequate for such a competition and would necessitate that the teams play at Georgetown’s borrowed home court – the MCI Center. With Georgetown’s tickets already accounted for by season ticket-holders, the GW athletic department would not have equal access to decent seats for its own alumni and donors.
In order to finally see an event of this magnitude come to fruition, creative planning and concessions on the part of both team’s athletic directors are necessary. One possible solution is to have the game at the MCI Center but make an exception by eliminating season tickets just for that game, to ensure that both teams have an opportunity to provide equal seating for their fans.
Another possibility that would mitigate many of the logistical challenges posed by a hypothetical GW-Georgetown match up would be the creation of a D.C.- area mini-tournament. Using the Big 5 in Philadelphia as a model, GW, Georgetown, Maryland, Virginia and George Mason could play one another every year. This system would provide each school with four quality opponents as well as providing a number of events around which the Washington area could rally.
For Georgetown, there aren’t many compelling reasons to play GW. Georgetown, over a longer period of time, has been a successful tournament team. The boys from Foggy Bottom are more up-and-comers, realizing consistent success only over the last three years under the direction of Coach Karl Hobbs. But for the sake of students at both schools and the D.C. area at large, it’s time for Georgetown to get over its refusal to play GW and finally make this clash of the District hoops juggernauts a reality.