This is Decatur Dawg pitching in while HoopDawg tries to avoid Apaches.
At times this season, the Hoop Dawgs have looked like a very dangerous team. Yante Maten is clearly one of the best inside players in the conference and is capable of a double-double every night. JJ Frasier is one of the best point guards in the SEC and, at times, a lights out shooter capable of scoring 30 points. Kenny Gaines can get hot and play sweet music from 3. In the final regular season game, young bigs Ogbeide and Edwards showed that they can contribute, pacing Georgia to a dominating performance on the glass against Alabama. Georgia gives good defensive effort most every game and holds opponents to the lowest FG% in the SEC.
On the other hand, at times the Hoop Dawgs look abysmal. The offense has been known to go scoreless for 10 minutes plus. Against quick and athletic front lines, the Dawgs sometimes give up way too many offensive rebounds. Free throw shooting and turnovers have been a constant struggle.
Georgia’s chances in this SEC Tournament depend on whether the “good Dawgs” or the “bad Dawgs” show up, and how often. We are currently on a three game “good Dawg” stretch that gives me hope for a major run into this weekend. On the other hand, Coach Fox has never mustered more than one win in a single SEC Tournament. Still, if Georgia gets strong defense and shooting from senior Kenny Gaines, we should advance past Missy State and South Carolina – Georgia is 3-0 against these teams, with two road wins – and set up a huge semifinal game with Kentucky this weekend.
Lets take a look at the bigger picture heading in to the SEC Tournament:
Kentucky – The Cats tied for first in the SEC but get the #2 seed due to their loss at A&M. Kentucky is the favorite as they have been in every SEC Tournament that I can remember other than the Florida championship years early this century. This year’s Cats are once again a young group and once again loaded with talent. They have the league’s best PG in Tyler Ulis and its best shooter in Jamal Murray. However, this year’s Cats did not dominate inside as recent Kentucky teams have done. Most troubling for Kentucky is that this event will not be held at Rupp Arena — Kentucky has lost 6 of their past 10 games away from home.
Texas A&M – The #1 seed Aggies are led by senior guards Jalen Jones and Danuel House. A&M surged as high as #3 in the AP poll and looked like they would dominate the SEC before hitting a lull in early February in which they lost 4 straight. They have since regained their form with 6 straight wins to finish the regular season.
Vanderbilt – The Commodores got off to a tough start, losing their first 3 SEC games. Since then, they are one of the hottest teams in the league with wins over both Kentucky and Texas A&M. Vandy is a very balanced team, with 5 players averaging over 9 points per game. Don’t overlook the fact that this tournament is played in their hometown of Nashville. Still, I would like Vandy’s chances better if they did not have to win 4 games in 4 days to take the title. That extra game moved them out of “favorite” status into this second rung.
LSU – No one will argue that the #4 seed Tigers are not talented enough to win 3 in a row and take this Tournament. Any team with Ben Simmons leading a very athletic starting 5 has the potential to beat any team they play. However, LSU has had a horrible time on the defensive end and there are signs of in-fighting coming out of Baton Rouge.
South Carolina – The Gamecocks have had a very good season and own a huge win at Texas A&M. Still, its hard to imagine this team winning 3 in a row away from home. The ‘Cocks lack a consistent scoring punch.
Georgia – see above. The Hoop Dawgs could not keep the games very close against Kentucky, A&M or Vanderbilt but we did get a pretty good draw in the bracket. The Dawgs are likely to be favored vs Missy State and South Carolina and wins could set up a huge opportunity against a Kentucky team that might take us lightly if they are remembering back to their easy win at Rupp.
Ole Miss – Its not likely to be enough to win the Tournament, but Stefan Moody has the potential to get super hot and carry the Rebel Bears into the weekend.