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.