The Georgetown Hoyas are the only Big East team that leads its all-time series with Louisville. So why have they been so consistently successful against a team the rest of the league has struggled so mightily against?
You can count the number of Big East teams against which Louisville has a losing record on one finger. I don't know why you wouldn't just count to one in your head, but that's for another post.
Since joining the conference in 2005-06, no Big East team has fared better in league play than the Cardinals. Still, there's been a thorn that has lodged its way into their side once almost every year: Georgetown.
Not only do the Hoyas lead the all-time series with U of L, but they own a borderline dominant 8-4 advantage. What's more, just two of those Louisville victories have come since the Cards joined the Big East (the first two came in 1948 and 1953, respectively).
Here's the Louisville/Georgetown series game-by-game since their first meeting as conference foes back in 2007.
Georgetown 73, Louisville 65 (2/7/07)
Louisville 59, Georgetown 51 (2/9/08)
Georgetown 55, Louisville 52 (3/8/08)
Louisville 76, Georgetown 58 (2/23/09)
Georgetown 70, Louisville 60 (2/23/10)
Georgetown 62, Louisville 59 (1/31/11)
Georgetown 71, Louisville 68 (12/28/11)
In the six seasons in which they've played, Louisville has finished ahead of or tied with Georgetown in the final Big East standings four times. The only two occasions in which this didn't occur were last season (the Hoyas were 12-6, Louisville was 10-8), and in 2008 when the Hoyas knocked off the Cards in a de facto regular season championship game on March 8.
So with U of L consistently seeming to field the better team, why the relative dominance by Georgetown?
The easy answer is to say that Louisville typically wins games via an aggressive defense and relentless press that create numerous points off turnovers, while Georgetown is typically one of the most fundamentally sound and offensively efficient teams in the country. This being the case, it stands to reason that the Hoyas have been so successful against U of L because they're generally better equipped to take care of the ball against the Cards than most other teams in the Big East.
What's remarkable is that this isn't the case.
Not once in Georgetown's five Big East victories over Louisville have the Hoyas won the turnover battle. Since turning it over just seven times in their 2007 meeting (incredibly, the Cards had just one turnover in that game), the Hoyas have been forced into throwing the ball away 17, 12, 16 and 16 times by the U of L pressure.
The bigger issue for Louisville has been the fact that Georgetown has shot better from the field than they have in all five meetings, and have shot above their season average in four of those five games.
Here are the numbers, with the Hoyas on the left and the Cards on the right:
2/7/07: 56.5% - 33.3%
3/8/08: 50.0% - 41.3%
2/23/10: 46.9% - 44.0%
1/31/11: 47.8% - 35.1%
12/28/11: 47.9% - 41.7%
Basically, Louisville has gotten enough points off of turnovers to put itself in a position to win most of these games, but Georgetown has shot the ball so well and bottled up the Cards' halfcourt offense so much that it hasn't mattered.
We can talk about needing to get more cheap points off turnovers all we want, but if Louisville doesn't execute its halfcourt offense better than it did against Syracuse or Villanova, then the Cards are going to lose their fourth straight to Georgetown, and more importantly, their third straight this season.