St. John’s vs. Georgetown. Mullin vs. Ewing. What Decade Is This?

Matthew Jordan

Monday, January 8, 2018 5:11 PM UTC

Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 5:11 PM UTC

It feels like the early 1980s as Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing square off in a St. John’s-Georgetown Big East showdown Tuesday. Only as coaches this time.

Georgetown Hoyas at St. John’s Red Storm (-8)Free NCAAB Pick: Hoyas +8Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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One of the reasons college basketball (and ESPN) is so popular these days is because of the Big East’s basketball heyday in the 1980s. And likely the two best players in Big East history were Georgetown center Patrick Ewing and St. John’s swingman Chris Mullin. For the first time, the Hall of Famers and former rivals will face off as coaches Tuesday night as Georgetown visits St. John’s action at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. It’s at Madison Square Garden as opposed to SJU's on-campus arena.

Mullin, who is from Queens, was an amazing player at St. John’s from 1981-85. He was a two-time All American who earned First-Team All-America honors as a senior. Mullin also was named Big East Player of the Year a record three times and the sweet-shooting lefty was the Wooden Award winner in 1985. That year he led the Johnnies to the Final Four and first No. 1 ranking since 1951. Mullin went on to have an excellent NBA career as the No. 7 overall pick by Golden State in 1985.

Ewing is probably one of the five greatest NCAA players of all-time. He was a first-team All-American three times and Georgetown and two-time Big East Player of the Year; he and Mullin shared the award twice. The Jamaican-born Ewing led the Hoyas to the national title in 1984, and they were heavy NCAAB betting favorites to win it again in 1985 – the year the Big East had three Final Four teams – but after beating Mullin’s Johnnies in the Final Four were upset in the final by Villanova. Of course, Ewing became the No. 1 overall pick by the New York Knicks in 1985 and thus knows Madison Square Garden rather well. He and Mullin were teammates on the legendary USA Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics, which is when they became friends. They are the only two current Division I coaches to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player.

Georgetown fired John Thompson III – son of Ewing’s former coach John Thompson – after last season and hired Ewing, who sought out advice from Mullin before accepting the job. It’s Ewing’s first-ever head coaching gig. He worked as an assistant for a few NBA teams from 2002-2017.

SJU was 2-1 vs. Georgetown last season, winning at home and in the Big East Tournament at the Garden. The Johnnies lead the all-time series 57-49. The favorite is 9-2 ATS in the past 11 meetings.

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Patrick Ewing the realest pic.twitter.com/RGwT93ILs6

— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) January 4, 2018
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Uphill Climb for Hall of Famers

Both Ewing and Mullin have a lot of work to do to restore their programs to where they were – in all honesty, they probably never reach that type of peak again. One reason the Big East was so big in the 1980s was because players wanted to be seen on TV and the top Big East games always were. Now you can go almost anywhere and be shown on television.

Georgetown (11-4 SU, 1-3 Big East, 6-6 ATS) lost 18 games each of the past two seasons under Thompson III and missed the NCAA Tournament. This team isn’t good enough to get a bid, either, barring an unlikely run to the Big East Tournament title. Yeah, that overall record looks nice enough, but GU played an obscenely easy non-conference schedule with wins over the likes of Jacksonville, Mount St. Mary’s, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Howard, North Texas and Alabama A&M.

The Hoyas were crushed at home on Saturday, 90-66 by Creighton; the Bluejays entered with a 0-4 record in Washington. The game was over at the half as it was 45-27 and the Hoyas had nine turnovers to eight made field goals before intermission. No Georgetown starter scored double-digit points – leading scorer Jessie Govan (one of two returning starters) was held to seven -- and the team shot just 36.5 percent.

Mullin is in his third season as coach at St. John’s and is 32-49. But progress is being made as his first team was 8-24 and last year’s 14-19. The Red Storm (10-6 SU, 0-4 Big East, 7-7 ATS) didn’t look good at all Saturday, though, in losing 91-74 at their on-campus arena to a bad DePaul team. Bashir Ahmed scored 21 points with seven rebounds for the Red Storm, who have lost four straight. They have played their past nine without second-leading scorer Marcus LoVett because of a sprained knee. He is listed as day-to-day, his status unchanged since sustaining the injury on Thanksgiving weekend.

For a point of comparison with Georgetown, SJU lost at Creighton last Wednesday, 78-71.

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