This is Decatur Dawg continuing to fill in for Hoop Dawg.
Georgia enters the SEC Tournament as the #6 seed. Four wins in four days would make us SEC Tournament Champs and automatic qualifiers for the NCAA. Of course, we all know how hard it is to pull off that feat (barring a natural disaster) especially for a team like Georgia that lacks quality depth. The question becomes: is it possible for Georgia to receive an NCAA at-large bid?
The Hoop Dawgs had a disastrous 0-3 stretch from Feb. 16 – 24 in which we lost to Vandy, Florida and Auburn. After the Auburn loss (RPI 150+) the Dawgs were considered out of NCAA consideration and hanging on by our fingernails for an NIT bid.
That Auburn loss remains a major blemish and the only truly bad loss on the Dawgs’ resume. But three straight wins over top 100 RPI teams Ole Miss, South Carolina and Alabama have the Dawgs at least back in the NCAA conversation heading into the conference tournaments. Georgia’s current RPI of 71 is not good enough, but there is still time for us to move up in to the 50s and get serious consideration. Our #26 strength of schedule and #3 non-conference SOS are major stats in our favor. Joe Lunardi lists us as one of the “second four out” on his Bracketology page.
My take is that Georgia has a very good chance of getting an at-large bid with 3 wins in the SEC Tourney — which would get us to 20 wins overall, 13 wins in SEC play and a 6-1 finish to our season. I doubt that many Power 5 teams have missed the NCAA with 13 conference wins. In this scenario, we would have 3 wins vs. S Carolina, a team considered to be in the NCAA. It would be hard for the selection committee to give them the nod and leave us out. If we win just two games in the SEC Tournament, then say take a close loss to Kentucky, I would think we still have a long shot chance at being selected to the NCAA.
Teams to Root Against:
The NCAA at-large bids are a zero-sum game. Losses by these teams in their conference tournaments are good news for the Dawgs:
Florida – it comes naturally to root against the Gators but we have extra incentive based on their beating us twice and the limited number of spaces for SEC teams in the NCAA. The reptiles have lost 4 of 5 games so a first round loss to Arkansas would seem to put them out of NCAA consideration and open up Georgia’s chances of being a potential 5th SEC team in the Big Dance.
Others on the bubble: Syracuse, St. Bonaventure, UConn, Oregon St., Tulsa, Gonzaga, Michigan, George Washington and Ohio State are all teams we are competing with for one of the last NCAA spots.
Teams to Root For:
The RPI formula makes for strange bedfellows:
Georgia Tech (RPI 69): Currently our third best win based on RPI, a win or two by the Jackets in the ACC Tournament could raise Georgia’s RPI and maybe even get us a top 50 win.
Small Conference Leaders: St. Mary’s, Akron, S. Dakota St., Valporaiso, San Diego St., Monmouth, Arkansas Little Rock and Chattanooga are all #1 seeds in their respective conferences and ranked ahead of Georgia in the RPI. We want every one of these teams to win their conference tournaments because otherwise they may take an at-large bid off the board.
What about the NIT?
At this point the Hoop Dawgs look good for an NIT bid. A loss to Missy State in the first game would leave us to sweat out the NIT selection and assure a road trip for the first game if we are selected. With two wins in the SEC Tournament, I like our chances of hosting an NIT game or two.