Third place on the line as Dawgs take on Rebels

The Georgia Bulldogs (13-10; 7-4) are at a critical juncture in the season where opportunity is both literally and figuratively knocking at their door.

On Saturday, UGA will host the Ole Miss Rebels with third place in the conference at stake.  A win this weekend would bolster the Dawgs’ SEC record to 8-4, and it would move them a step closer to bypassing the first two rounds of the conference tournament by way of finishing in the top four in the league standings.

Earlier this week, ESPN released its first Bubble Watch of the year – a weekly segment that analyzes the chances that teams have of earning at-large bids to the NCAA tournament in March.  At the moment, ESPN blogger Eamonn Brennan has the SEC down for two NCAA Tournament “locks” (meaning they are in) – Florida and Kentucky (no surprises there).

However, I found it incredibly interesting that of the five teams that Brennan lists from the conference with “Work left to do” – Tennessee, Missouri, Ole Miss, LSU and Arkansas – all of them are on Georgia’s remaining schedule of SEC games.

UGA actually has the chance to put itself into consideration for at at-large bid to this year’s NCAA tournament over the next three weeks based upon their remaining opponents.

Now, whether Georgia can embrace and rise to those challenges is a different story.  The Dawgs most likely would need to be very successful in a majority of those aforementioned games because they just can’t seem to shake off the stigma of being a mediocre program.

Brennan mentioned Georgia twice in his SEC segment of the Bubble Watch, but unfortunately both plugs were just to highlight the fact that Missouri and LSU had suffered “bad losses” to the Bulldogs (a team that is currently tied for 3rd in the league standings).

If Georgia wants respect they are going to have to earn it.

This key stretch of games starts Saturday with the Ole Miss Rebels, a team that is led offensively by a crazy person – Marshall Henderson. The Rebels’ backcourt has been shouldering half of the team’s scoring load in conference play with Henderson netting 20 ppg and junior guard Jarvis Summers contributing another 16.2 ppg.

The Dawgs’ perimeter defense has been steadily improving, and it will need to be on point this weekend as Ole Miss comes into Athens making more three-pointers (over 8) per game than any other SEC team in league games.  

After a 1-4 start to the season that had most Georgia fans cringing at the thought of conference play, UGA has put itself in position to challenge for a top spot in the league with a very meaningful SEC game on the horizon this weekend in Athens.

 

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12 thoughts on “Third place on the line as Dawgs take on Rebels

  1. Depends on which Georgia shows up. The lack of respect is from those early season losses and how bad we have looked against Florida and Kentucky. Sometimes teams get in the NCAAT because of momentum in the late season. Probably have to win 4 games and go to the semi’s in the SEC tournament. The pre conference losses really hurt when Fox was experimenting and Morris was benched.

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  2. I am more excited about Saturday’s game than I have been about a Hoop Dawgs game in a good while. Ole Miss is a team that we can beat.

    My recipe for a tourney invitation is that the Dawgs have to win 5 of the last 6 games, then win at least one SEC Tourney game. That would mean getting a win either at UT or at Arky, which won’t be easy at all.

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  3. NCAA tournament? That’s hilarious. The SEC sucks. We would be buried near the basement of the Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 or even the A-10. This team is still a longshot for the NIT(RPI is still not even in the top 100)…and all an NIT bid would accomplish would be saving Fox’s sorry butt for one more season. No worries, Fox has lots of talent coming in next season…oh wait.

    I’ll say we go 2-1 at home and 1-3 on the road to finish at 16-14 overall and 10-8 in the SEC. Then, lose first game of SEC tourney. 16-15 and no postseason to go with 17 losses and no postseason in 3 of Fox’s other 4 seasons. Good riddance.

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    1. Greg – your prediction about the Dawgs record seems reasonable if a bit pessimistic, but I think the NIT would be happy to have us with winning conference and overall records.

      Personally I think Fox is coaching these guys up pretty good at this point. He needs to recruit better but there is a fairly talented core returning for next season.

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  4. NIT seems to be a more realistic thought but I’d love to dream of an NCAA tourney bid!!! I think we will finish 11-7 in the SEC which would put us at 17-13 overall and I think we get to Saturday of the SEC tourney for the first time in a long while. That could get us the NIT bid we want. This would be great progress for the program in my opinion with everyone coming back next year. Of course, I’d love to see us go on a huge run and win 6 out of the last 7. Do that and we might get some NCAA consideration.

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    1. I agree with that assessment, although maybe 10-8 SEC might be more realistic. Either way, it wasn’t long ago a winning conference record seemed impossible, so I’d be happy. Like you said, winning a game or two in the conference tourney and possibly getting an NIT bid would be huge signs of progress. Go Dawgs!

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  5. Sure this is a big weekend, but opportunities with Vandy at home and Auburn on the road were just as big and we let the easy ones get away from us! Just as the SEC is feared in the fall, the ACC is feared in the winter time! We have to shut off these borders to the talent drain and keep just one big prospect to build around! Then repeat the process for a few years to see where we stand with Fox! Its obvious the guy can coach, To have Thornton avg. 10 pt and 10 rebounds /game is incredible! Can you believe that the Dogs lead the SEC in rebounding??? McGarity should renew Fox’s contract right now! Let’s face it right now the ACC has trumped us in the round ball dept. UT, Ark, Ala, and Vandy are the teams that need to get on the coaching – go – round! Coach Fox looks better every year compared to those stumble bums! The SEC network will have to pick up the pace to offer year round programming! By the way , people that criticize Stegmann Coliseum have not been to the BIG 10 where all the arenas are all WWII vintage and all hold 15,000 people! The rest of the year they use them to store corn!

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    1. The Big 10 arenas may be barns but they are usually filled with enthusiastic fans. With the way we’ve played in the conference this year, the attendance has been PATHETIC. Less than 5000 versus LSU, really?

      I have been really pleased with the progress with Thornton and Gaines this year. Mann does well but gets too excited and doesn’t use good judgment at times. Neme has been really inconsistent. I do wish that Dixon would get planted on the bench. Very little good happens when he is in the game.

      Overall, I’m pleased with the way the season has progressed. Some of the early non-conference games were disappointing as were Vandy and Auburn but we’ve proven that if we rebound, hit our free throws, and limit our turnovers, we can be a force. Sic ’em Dawgs!

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  6. Unfortunately, this is almost the exact same thing UGA does every year… Suck in the pre-conference, play some really good ball during the mid-season and conference play, then fall flat toward the end of the season and finish around .500 and miss post-season. We play just well enough for CMF to save his job, but never good enough to make some actual noise.

    I hope we finish strong, I’m just not holding my breath.

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