Two early results, one of them pretty shocking, have scrambled the division picture a bit more as Georgia and Kentucky get ready to tip off.
Florida fell at Mississippi State, which wasn't too much of a surprise. But how about South Carolina losing at home to Auburn? Yikes. The Gamecocks were the consensus pick to finish last in the East, but still owned early wins over Florida and Vanderbilt. So figure that out.
So now every team in the East has at least two losses:
Florida ...... 5-2
Kentucky ..... 3-2
Tennessee .... 3-2
Vanderbilt ... 3-2
Georgia ...... 3-3
S. Carolina .. 3-3
3:40 p.m.: Kentucky has a football program too
We scribes have joked amongst ourselves about Georgia holding football press conferences before two recent basketball games. (That being underclassmen talking about their return to school.) Well, Kentucky did it today too.
Kentucky receivers coach Tee Martin, who had been speaking with Alabama, is returning after apparently getting a pay raise. Martin and head coach Joker Phillips are about 50 feet from me right now making the announcement.
Meanwhile, the tip-off time for this game has been moved back to 4:10 p.m. Not because of the football announcement, but for television purposes.
LEXINGTON, Ky. - As we await the latest news elsewhere - who will be the next Georgia football recruit, will Egypt de-commit from Hosni Mubarack - I offer you my greetings from the bluegrass. Well actually, the ice-grass.
Please don't tell me how nice the weather is back in Georgia. Here in Lexington there's still snow on the ground, it's in the 30s, and my rental car is a Kia. As much as I enjoy the company of fellow scribes who cover Kentucky, I'm already anxious for the flight home.
I'm still in my hotel room, preparing to head to Rupp Arena in a little bit. For Georgia, today's game should be viewed as an opportunity, not an end-all for its tournament hopes. Head coach Mark Fox, in today's story previewing the game, made the point that Georgia is not in a terrible position.
“We don’t have to go undefeated,” he said. “There’s room for error. We don’t have to go undefeated the rest of the year to accomplish something. I think that every team is going to have a loss or two from this point forward. You don’t want too many of them, but we have to win more than we lose, that’s for sure.”
He's right. I'm surprised a bit by the comments I've seen from some Georgia fans, already jumping off the bandwagon. The Bulldogs still have a healthy RPI rank (44 entering Saturday's action) and the most recent ESPN bracketology has Georgia as a No. 9 seed, which is well within the bubble. Yes, that was before the Florida loss, but Jerry Palm, on his bracket posted Friday on CollegeRPI.com (a pay site) has Georgia as a No. 8 seed.
Here's some other action to watch today:
- Xavier at Richmond: (Xavier is winning at the half as I type this). At this point I continue to think Georgia's home game against Xavier on Feb. 8 may be the most important game for the Bulldogs, at least as far as their NCAA hopes. Xavier, which is No. 25 in the RPI, and would add to what at the moment is a pretty thin non-conference resume' for Georgia.
- Florida State at Clemson: The Tigers are coming on strong and becoming a factor for an at-large bid. As I type this, they're up early in the first half on FSU, perhaps the ACC's second-best team.
- Florida at Mississippi State (1 p.m.), and Tennessee at Mississippi (4 p.m.): I know I'll never get Bulldog fans to root for the Gators or Vols, so I'll just repeat what I've said: Since UGA plays each twice, it benefits the Bulldogs in the RPI whenever an East team beats a West team. Obviously it doesn't benefit the Bulldogs in the SEC East Division race - but the NCAA selection committee doesn't really care about that.
- Auburn at South Carolina (1:45 p.m.): Could the Gamecocks actually enter the discussion for the NCAA tournament? They're playing their way into it, although ironically after playing pitiful Auburn today I'm pretty sure their RPI rank (85) will drop.
- Colorado at Baylor (1:45 p.m): Colorado is falling fast, and Georgia needs the Buffaloes to reverse that.
- Syracuse at Marquette (3 p.m.): Marquette is going to be an at-large contender.
- UAB at UCF (7 p.m.): UAB, the second-highest ranked team Georgia has defeated, is 47 in the RPI. UCF started the season unbeaten, with a win over Florida, but has faltered lately.