Hoyamania Strikes; Bulldog Guards the Hilltop

Jack the Bulldog with Healy Tower behind him.
Robert Devaney
Jack the Bulldog with Healy Tower behind him.

The Hoya basketball team--the No. 2 seed in the South Regional of the 2013 NCAA Tournament--is set to play Friday in Philadelphia against Florida Gulf Coast University.

For this March Madness, the Georgetown University men's basketball team looks strong with coach John Thompson III and star player Otto Porter leading the way.

And, for good measure, there's a "Jack the Bulldog" inflatable on top of the Prospect Street house of Jack Davies, who has placed Santa Claus and a hockey player atop his river view deck before.

"Yesterday afternoon with the assistance of three young men from Georgetown's athletic department and my nephew Clarke Williams, we put up the bulldog," said Davies, businessman and philanthropist, who is a founder of AOL International and part owner of the Washington Capitals and other sports teams. "We were nearly foiled by strong winds but Jack the Bulldog prevailed."

At first unaware that he and the Georgetown mascot share a first name, Davies said of the high-sitting inflatable -- which was provided by the university -- "It's better than an inflatable Jesuit."

"The Hoyas are my neighborhood team," Davies said. "I am a big fan of John Thompson III and his wife Monica and of the way Georgetown runs its program. I would like to see Coach Larranaga do well with Miami, but Jack the Bulldog shows my true favorite."

It seems everyone has a favorite, religiously filling in their NCAA brackets. As he has done since his first year in office, President Barack Obama shared his picks with ESPN: Louisville, Ohio State, Florida and Indiana in the Final Four; Indiana beating Louisville in the April 8 national championship game.

Retired Georgetowner publisher Dave Roffman chimed in from Alabama: "My Final Four, Ohio State, Miami, Louisville and Georgetown." Roffman commented: "Well, since I spent 42 plus years in Georgetown, I have to root for the Hoyas. But Michigan is definitely tough. I like Miami and Ohio State to reach the finals. They have the best point guards."

Looking at the brackets, the coverage and marketing of the tournament, the conferences and the number of schools (not even counting play-in schools) and their often obscure names, you realize a lot has changed since March Madness officially became March Madness.

One thing you can practically say with certainty is that there is no clear-cut favorite this year. Indiana, for instance, has a number-one seed in this tournament, but hardly any hoops nut is picking them to win it all—except POTUS.

"Those great upset years with the great oddball schools forging into the regionals and NCAA finals by whooping up on the likes of Duke, Kansas or, yes, sad to say, Georgetown in early rounds may be over," said Georgetowner arts & entertainment editor Gary Tischler, who began his career as a sports writer years ago in northern California.

"I’m not making a prediction here—bad enough that I filled out the bracket minus the eventual champion—but it looks impossible to try," Tischler said. "Everybody’s a crap shooter these days even those who think it’s a game where you say crap(s) all of the time. Talk about the old, long-shot guys. Look who’s got a number-one seed—Gonzaga, a small school with a great basketball program which became so consistently good that it became a so-called mid-major.  VCU and Butler, giant killers of yore, are now legitimate contenders right up there with Georgetown, which is playing a school that beat another top seed, Miami, whose coach led George Mason to the Final Four in 2006."

Tischler's take-away? "Hate to go against the president: Georgetown and St. Louis in the final in a nail biter.  Don’t know who; just know when."

Whatever the pick, Georgetown--and the entire Washington area--is enjoying the national attention of being a top seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. And Jack the Bulldog is staring down on D.C. and Virginia. Let's hope he gets to sit and stay for a couple of weeks.

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Tue, 2 Sep 2014 02:45:05 -0400

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