The Georgia Bulldogs (17-7; 6-4) have six games remaining on their 2010-2011 SEC schedule – three home and three away.
Georgia will play host to Vanderbilt, South Carolina and LSU, while the Dawgs have to make daunting trips to Tennessee, Florida and Alabama.
Let’s assume that Georgia splits the next six games (holding serve at home but losing on the road) and finishes the season at 9-7 in the conference, and 20-10 overall.
Would this be sufficient to get them in, or would the Dawgs need to win a game in the SEC Tournament to solidify an at-large berth into this year’s NCAA Tournament?
Hopefully Georgia can take care of business in Athens against Vandy on Wednesday night, giving them sole possession of second place in the SEC East. If the Dawgs were to hang on to that position (meaning Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Tennessee all have slip-ups) they would earn a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
If Georgia finished second in the East, that would mean that they would take on the winner of the South Carolina-Arkansas first-round game (assuming that the standings today remained the same, except UGA and Vandy swap spots).
The other scenario is that even if the Dawgs win on Wednesday, they still could finish third or fourth in the SEC East depending on how the chips fall along the way. If they finished third, Georgia would play Auburn in round one. Should they finish fourth, the Dawgs would take on LSU.
I tend to think that if Georgia were to finish 20-10 overall and 9-7 in the conference that they would be deserving of an at-large bid from the selection committee. However, the Dawgs are far from being a household name nationally, and the SEC does not garner a lot of respect in the college basketball world compared to the other major conferences (ESPN rated the SEC 7th in its latest conference ranking).
Obviously, beating Vanderbilt Wednesday night is a must if the Bulldogs hope to dance in March. But how important is a win in this year’s SEC Tournament? If you think a win in the conference tournament is important, would you rather the Dawgs earn a bye and play the winner of the potential South Carolina-Arkansas game (assuming it started right now), or would you rather them play a first round game against a bottom-dweller like LSU or Auburn?
I apologize in advance for all the “what if” scenarios…