Thursday, March 3, 2011
Mark Fox probably struck the right tone when he was asked about his team’s NCAA tournament status after Wednesday’s win over LSU. He wasn’t assuming anything about his Georgia men’s basketball team being in yet, but acted as if he’d be surprised if they somehow didn’t make it now.
That’s a fair way to look at it, which is why the ol' bubble meter to the left is all the way to 90. (No, it does not go to 11.)
Ten days before the field is announced, the proper term for “lock” should be a team that could lose the rest of its games and still not have anything to worry about. By that definition Georgia isn’t all the way in; lose at Alabama, that’s okay, but lose in the first round of the SEC tournament – especially to a team like Auburn or LSU – and then there might be trouble.
Jerry Palm, the national bracket analyst for CBSsports.com and CollegeRPI.com, summed up Georgia this way after the LSU game:
“Not totally safe, but others in more trouble,” Palm said. “I think the big thing for them is to avoid a bad loss – one thing their resume lacks at the moment.”
Even if Georgia lost out, a lot of other bubble teams would probably have to play their win in. And right now more teams are playing their way out. So there would also have to be a lot of bid-stealing: such as another instance of a longshot like Mississippi State winning the SEC tournament, and in five or six different leagues.
Here's the breakdown:
GEORGIA’S KEY STATS (using Collegerpi.com)
Record: 20-9 overall, 9-6 in the SEC
Record vs. top 50 in RPI: 3-9 (beat Kentucky, Tennessee and UAB, lost to Notre Dame, Florida twice, Kentucky, Xavier, Vanderbilt twice, Temple and Tennessee)
Record vs. top 100: 5-9 (also beat Mississippi and Colorado)
What happened Wednesday: I mentioned teams playing their way out of the tournament. Dayton, Florida State, Colorado, Marquette, Minnesota and Clemson all are bubble teams, and all lost on Wednesday.
In terms of Georgia’s resume’, the Colorado loss may not help, but Colorado only fell to 81 in the RPI so that’ll stay a top 100 win. In better news for the Bulldogs, UAB pulled out a last-second win and moved up to 28, so that’s close to becoming a top 25 win for Georgia. So far Kentucky is it’s only one of those.
What to watch Thursday: I’ll focus on the division picture for this one. If Tennessee loses at South Carolina, then it clinches the fifth seed in the SEC tournament and Georgia is assured of finishing no lower than fourth. If the Vols win, then incredibly the Bulldogs will still be able to finish anywhere from second to fifth entering the final weekend of the regular season.
Once again, the scenarios: If Georgia loses at Alabama and Tennessee wins its final two games, then the Bulldogs are the fifth seed. … But if Georgia wins at Alabama, and Vanderbilt and Kentucky lose, the Bulldogs are the second seed and get the bye. … Georgia loses any tiebreaker if it finishes tied with anybody.
What’s next for Georgia: A lot of people won’t look at Alabama as a potentially bad loss – unless the RPI is considered. Right now Georgia’s “worst” loss is Tennessee, ranked 33rd. But Alabama, the West Division champ, is 86th.
Then again, what if Trey Thompkins doesn’t play? That almost helps the Bulldogs, who would be able to say they lost without their star. That’s why, if Fox has to make a call on whether to play Thompkins, he might be wise to leave him home. The team is in good enough NCAA position that it doesn’t want it’s star hobbling enough to give the selection committee something to think about.
Posted by Seth Emerson at 9:43 AM