Georgia Basketball: Evaluating the Bulldogs’ Tournament Resume

Posted by Mike Foster on February-11-2011 Add Comments

With a little less than a month left in the NCAA basketball regular season, every team’s tournament resume is starting to take shape around the country.

Every team will be pushing to make that signature move that will stand out to the selection committee come March.

While most tournament caliber teams are pretty clear cut, there may not be a more puzzling prospective field member than the Georgia Bulldogs.

In Mark Fox‘s second season in Athens, the Bulldogs have a rare and respectable 16-7 record with seven Southeastern Conference games left to play, starting on the road in Columbia against South Carolina tomorrow afternoon.

Georgia’s performance to this point arguably does not have a blemish. However, at the same time, UGA’s resume is one of the least eye-opening of any teams that are bidding for a dance.

Georgia only has one win over a ranked opponent, or top opponent if you will, in a 77-70 home victory over Kentucky.

The Bulldogs lost absolutely heartbreaking matchups to Tennessee and Florida, on a questionable buzzer-beater and a miracle shot, respectively.

Had Tennessee’s Brian Williams shot not dropped, as well as Erving Walker’s, Georgia would presumably be a top 25 team right now, and a tournament shoo-in.

Its SEC record would currently be 7-2, instead of 5-4, putting them on top of the SEC Eastone of the toughest, if not the toughest, division in college hoops.

Georgia’s other conference losses came on the road to Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and both had outright results (though Georgia didn’t get blown out in either contest).

It’s fair to say losing by single digits at Memorial Coliseum and Rupp Arena is respectable more than anything else, but Georgia has only made headlines for its gut-wrenching home losses.

What might deter the selection committee even more is the fact Georgia struggled mightily to win its early non conference games against second-tier schools, albeit it was without Trey Thompkins at forward.

Georgia’s close wins in non-conference included:

72-70 over Mississippi Valley State (currently 9-15, SWAC)

61-59 over St. Louis (currently 8-15, Atlantic 10)

61-58 over Manhattan (currently 4-20, MAAC)

73-72 over Georgia Tech (currently 10-13, ACC)

56-53 over Mercer (currently 10-15, Atlantic Sun)

Seeing a stretch of one-possession games against these caliber schools, from a “tournament” team, is pretty rare. As a matter of fact, seeing a 16-7 basketball team go through that type of stretch of close games, against any caliber opponent, is remarkable.

Georgia’s non-conference schedule will be one of the toughest to analyze specs in the entire prospective tournament field.

And, Georgia also performed rather well against its bigger non-conference opponents.

Georgia lost in double overtime to Notre Dame, who’s currently a top-10 team.

The Bulldogs also have seven- and eight-point losses to A-10 members Temple and Xavier, respectively.

Georgia was not able to beat any of its prime non-conference opponents, but it was not blown out either.

The Bulldogs struggled to finish games in the SEC, scraping by Arkansas by a point and surrendering a late lead against Auburn (though they beat the Tigers in overtime).

However, the Dawgs also had impressive blowout victories over Ole Miss and Mississippi State, 98-76 and 88-64, where they looked like a top-seed tournament team.

Can anyone make sense of all of this?

The Bulldogs have not suffered a regulation loss of more than eight points. They have two double overtime losses to top 25 teams. They struggled to beat second-tier schools early in the year, and they don’t have any eye-opening victories.

But Georgia currently stands at 16-7. I claimed in this year’s preview article that nine regular season losses or less would mean a trip to the big dance for Georgia.

Their remaining games are:

Feb 12 @ South Carolina (13-9, 4-5)

Feb 16 vs. No. 24 Vanderbilt (17-6, 5-4)

Feb 19 @ Tennessee (15-9, 5-4)

Feb 24 @ No. 19 Florida (19-5, 8-2)

Feb 26 vs. South Carolina (13-9, 4-5)

Mar 2 vs. LSU (10-14, 2-7)

Mar 5 @ Alabama (15-8, 7-2)

That’s a tough stretch for Georgia. Not only do the Bulldogs have Vanderbilt and a road game at Florida, but they also have to play in Knoxville and in Tuscaloosa against the only formidable opponent in the SEC West.

If Georgia can drop only three games in this stretch, then its total record of 21-9 would definitely look good enough for an NCAA tournament bid. If Georgia drops more than three, it might appear like more of a bubble team. If the Bulldogs drop five, they are pretty much done.

A strong showing in the SEC tournament, win or lose, will also be key for Georgia. Laying an egg in a tournament game could be a backbreaker for a team who has not proven enough “championship” pedigree.

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