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Easy Stretch?

Washington, DC - Although the Big East is loaded with ranked teams and plenty of stiff competition, Georgetown is probably looking forward to resuming league play.

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After losing a tough non-conference game, the 12th-ranked Hoyas open a potentially easy portion of their schedule Thursday against West Virginia at the Verizon Center.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Georgetown –8.5 point spread favorites for Thursday’s game against the West Virginia. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 61% of more than 205 bets for this game have been placed on the Georgetown –8.5.

Georgetown (12-4, 3-2) has had a brutal schedule over the past three weeks, as five of its last six opponents have been ranked 13th or better. It wrapped up that stretch with a 76-67 loss to then-No. 3 Duke on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"It's a non-conference game in the middle of a very tough conference schedule," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "It's a very disappointing loss for a lot of different reasons, but we have to move on."

While Georgetown had a rude awakening to Big East play, easier times appear to be on the way. The conference boasts eight teams in the Top 25, but the Hoyas play only one ranked opponent in their next six games.

After this contest, Georgetown visits Seton Hall and Cincinnati before playing at No. 11 Marquette on Jan. 31. The Hoyas then open February with home games against Rutgers and Cincinnati.

The Pirates, Bearcats and Scarlet Knights are all in the bottom six in the Big East.

The Mountaineers (13-4, 2-2) were ranked earlier in the season, but fell out of the poll after consecutive losses to then-No. 5 Connecticut and Marquette earlier this month.

West Virginia is coming off Saturday's 62-59 win over South Florida, but it wasn't easy, as it squandered almost all of a 17-point first-half lead.

The Mountaineers' offensive woes continued as they shot 38.5 percent from the floor. They are averaging 56.7 points on 34.3 percent shooting in their last three conference games.

"It's about doing the right thing all the time. It's not about doing the right thing some of the time," coach Bob Huggins told the school's official Web site. "We're just going to have to keep working to get better."

Da'Sean Butler scored 27 points Saturday for West Virginia, which is 1-3 against ranked opponents this season.

The Hoyas beat the Mountaineers twice in 2007-08 and have won 12 of the last 15 meetings. Georgetown, which has won 31 of its last 32 games at the Verizon Center, has also won six of its last seven at home against West Virginia.

The Mountaineers feature a smaller lineup and will likely have trouble slowing down Georgetown's 6-foot-11 center Greg Monroe and 6-8 forward DaJuan Summers.

Summers scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds on Saturday, topping the 20-point mark for the third time in five games.

Monroe made 6-of-7 shots to finish with 12 points and six rebounds against the Blue Devils. The freshman star is averaging 14.5 points on 56.5 percent shooting and 7.5 rebounds in his last six games after averaging 10.4 points on 44.4 percent shooting and 5.6 boards in his previous five.

Sophomore guard Austin Freeman has also picked up his game lately, scoring 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting Saturday. Freeman is averaging 17.3 points on 61.8 percent shooting in his last three games after scoring 12 on 4-of-14 shooting in his previous two combined.

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Posted: 1/22/09 12:30AM ET

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