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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bubble update: Dayton or bust for Georgia?

Pretty much nothing broke Georgia’s way on Friday, which could go down as the day its NCAA tournament hopes went kaput – or it was relegated to the play-in round in Dayton. That remains to be decided.

(Just to be safe, I made a hotel reservation for Dayton, where the NCAA is holding its four play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be two games between the last four at-large teams, and two between the worst four league champions. And incidentally, the NCAA is calling these four games, which pare down the field from 68 to 64, as the “first round,” and the round of 64 the second round, and so on. That seems silly, so until that terminology takes hold, or the AP so orders, I’m calling it the play-in round.)

Anyway, it sure looks like Georgia would be headed to Dayton if it makes the NCAAs. It wasn’t just Georgia’s come-from-ahead loss to Alabama, which incidentally dropped the Bulldogs’ RPI to 45. The bubble squeezed further on Friday, with teams like Michigan State, Michigan, Clemson and Virginia Tech winning. And the Atlantic 10 could end up with a non-contender winning, which would steal a bid from somewhere.

By my estimation, there are 36 current teams that are locks to at least get an at-large bid. There are 13 teams that have already won their league titles, and eight other league champions to be decided, where the loser will most likely not be an at-large candidate.

That leaves 11 spots open.

But there are two leagues where bid-stealing could happen: The Atlantic 10, where either Dayton or St. Joseph’s will play for the league title on Sunday, and the WAC, where Utah State is an at-large candidate if it doesn’t win the league title on Saturday. Some might also say Conference USA if UTEP beats Memphis, but either team’s case for an at-large is kind of dicey. And some would also argue Harvard if it doesn’t win the Ivy League today.

Here are the remaining at-large contenders, with an x- noting the teams that are eliminated from their league tournaments. I put these teams in my own estimated pecking order:

Michigan State (18-13, RPI: 38)
Michigan (19-12, RPI: 48)
x-Colorado (20-13, RPI: 65)

THE BUBBLE (8 spots left)
x-St. Mary’s (23-8, RPI: 44)
Richmond (25-7, RPI: 56)
Clemson (21-10, RPI: 53)
Virginia Tech (21-10, RPI: 61)
Alabama (21-10, RPI: 77)
Memphis (24-9, RPI: 31)
UTEP (24-8, RPI: 49)
x-Georgia (21-11, RPI: 45)
x-Boston College (20-12, RPI: 58)
x-Missouri State (25-8, RPI: 41)
x-VCU (23-11, RPI: 51)
x-UAB (22-8, RPI: 30)
Penn State (18-13, RPI: 42)
x-Oklahoma State (19-13, RPI: 60)
x-New Mexico (20-12, RPI: 66)
Harvard (21-5, RPI: 32)
x-Cleveland State (24-8, RPI: 40)
x-Colorado State (18-12, RPI: 50)
x-Southern California (19-14, RPI: 67)

So by that, I have Georgia as the last team in, assuming no bid-stealing. But it can swing a lot today. Some quick thoughts:

- A lot of people were placing the two ACC teams (Clemson and Virginia Tech) in with their quarterfinal wins. I’m not so sure. If one or both gets blown out in today’s semifinals (they play North Carolina and Duke, respectively), Georgia still has a chance to get in ahead of them.

- If Alabama loses to Kentucky – again, Georgia would prefer a blowout – then Mark Fox’s favorite phrase, “body of work”, could still help Georgia overcome the two losses to the Tide.

- Keep a close eye on Richmond’s A-10 semifinal against Temple. If Richmond loses, they’re neck-and-neck with Georgia, in my opinion.

- The preferred Conference USA result is a blowout win by Memphis.

- Penn State needs to lose to Michigan State in today’s semis.

- Utah State (28-3, RPI: 18) needs to win the WAC today to be sure. It plays Boise State at 10 p.m.

- Harvard plays Princeton at 4 p.m. I don’t think Harvard is a serious at-large candidate, but I’m not on the committee, so you never know.


Anonymous said...

Clemson is clearly a better team under their first year coach. This team has progressed while UGA hasnt. Mark Fox blew it. Dawgs dont deserve a ticket to the big dance until they can put away teams and not blow leads.

Anonymous said...

Mark Fox blunder cost the dawgs big time. Just like Mark Richt electing for a stupid field goal on 4th and inches against Mickey Mouse U in the bowl game. Millions of dollars spent on inept coaching.

Matt C said...

Seth why haven't you tweeted about this?

Saw it on GTP form the Senator.

Also thanks for the Bubble update.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that, other than Barnes, our bench sucks. And because of that, we really start to wear down 5-10 minutes into the second half. The theme of this year has been to build a big first half lead and watch it start to disappear 5-10 minutes into the 2nd half.

I'm not blaming Fox for the lack of depth, nor am I absolving him. It's only his 2nd year and rebuilding sometimes takes time (and this was a pretty big rebuilding job when he took over).

However, if Thompkins leaves, next year could be painful. Losing Price, Barnes, and Thompkins would leave us with no bigs that we could really count on. Maybe someone will develop into a solid contributor (Thornton maybe?) but we don't have anyone reliable at this point in time.

Anonymous said...

Just to expand on what I just wrote...

If your bench guys aren't producing, it makes it very difficult to hold a lead. You're either going to keep your starters in as much as possible and wear them down...or you're going to keep the bench guys in and lose your grip on the lead b/c they aren't doing anything.

I'm very discouraged that we only have 6 guys who can really play but I still think Fox has done a good job so far. However, it would have been nice to see some of the sophomores or freshmen develop a little more and give us some punch off the bench.

Anonymous said...

Seth, excellent work, man. Thanks for these bubble updates. It really helps to know who to root for/against.

In regards to our loss yesterday, it was extremely frustrating to watch. You just got a sinking feeling when bama started to make their run in the 2nd half. I think the reason for so many 2nd half collapses is a combination of things: coaching, mental mistakes, turnovers and a lack of depth.

Our starting five can play with anybody in the country, as evidenced by our 1st half performances. But once those guys get tired, we're hosed. Obviously substitution patterns play a part here, but fatigue has already set in.

I think our other problem is the lack of a "closer." We don't have a guy that says " give me the ball and get out of my way, I'm gonna take over this game." That isn't really Thompkins game, so I thought it would end up being Leslie or Williams, but that hasn't really materialized. If we had a guy that could reliably get a few key buckets at the end of a game, not only are we still playing in the sec tourney, but we're comfortably in the big dance.

Overall, I'm very proud of Fox and our guys, but unfortunately I think we're headed to the NIT.

Anonymous said...

Boy, Anthony Grant really had his guys ready to go today! Not.

Anonymous said...

After basketball is over Will i just have to wait for football or is there another sport i could follow

Anonymous said...

I think Georgia will probably meet Alabama in Dayton for round three. I t makes since Georgia's better in numbers but Alabama has the head to head so the dawgs will probably have to beat the tide in dayton if they get in at all.

Michael said...

Honestly, nice progress this season, but does anyone feel like Georgia truly deserves a spot?

All the come from ahead losses make for a team that, imho, doesn't deserve a spot.