Filed under: athens, ATL, Auburn, bama, bobo, Border Bash, championships, Cocktail Party, College Football, D, family, GEORGIA, Grantham, Mitchell, NCAA, NFL, records, richt, SEC, SEC East, SEC West, Sports, Stafford, travel, UGA
UGA may be having a good year, but we do not have a road win against a rival yet. Florida is a neutral site, and we suddenly own Jacksonville. The Vols came to the Classic City, as will little Georgia Tech. Mizzou was not exactly an SEC site; it was all too novel for the middle Americans, a rival of Kansas.
When the 2012 schedule finally came out, I predicted GEORGIA would lose one regular season game: at Auburn or at South Carolina. Losing both would dismantle our dreams and put Richt back on the hot seat. Two of his three D coordinators, including stellar Mr. Double Thumbs Up Brian VanGorder, reside on the plains, for at least another two games. BVG has always been considered a superior coordinator to Mike Bobo, and he must be relishing this chance. While Willie Martinez will have their secondary as ready as he can and probably wants this one more than anyone.
Matthew Stafford’s freshman year saw the Dawgs drop games to Vandy and Kentucky (in football) during a mid-season swoon. When we faced Auburn, we were unheralded and they were #5…we blew them out. Georgia sits at #5 in the BCS this year, yet the prettiest village on the plains could be heartbreak city.
Jonathan Wallace is a freshman quarterback for Auburn, inserted into the starting lineup out of desperation. He has not been sacked and has good mobility and a decent arm. Running back Tre Mason has played as well as any back in the SEC over the past few games, including a blowout win last week over a bad team. Auburn has had three consecutive recruiting classes ranked in the Top 10 – the talent is there in the program. But losing is contagious, and once Georgia gets a lead in this game doubt should permeate the young minds of the Plainsmen-Tigers-WarDamnEagles. After all, they are winless in the SEC. Auburn has never before been 0-8 in conference, and they get #1 Bama next in the Iron Bowl.
Win tonight and Georgia wins the SEC East. The Dawgs may be underdogs to the Tide in Atlanta, where Richt is 2-2 in SEC championship games (1-2 vs LSU; 1-0 vs. Arkansas). A win would cement his legacy. Ask Nick Saban: it is in many ways easier to win a popularity contest National Championship than the SEC. BAMA is undefeated entering Saturday, but the top-tier talent they lost to the NFL shouldn’t be minimized.
I was in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park for hours yesterday, site of the first ever Georgia-Auburn game, Oldest Rivalry in the Deep South. Georgia should scrimmage Auburn here every spring, free for the fans in a general admission contest. It would be the biggest entertainment revolution in a sport which needs innovation beyond a well past due four-team playoff. The Eagles played Piedmont; Paul McCartney played Piedmont; Music Midtown is back in the park. The field near Park Tavern wouldn’t need much conversion. If the NCAA can play hockey outside and hoops on a ship, this too can happen. I have a dream.
Malcolm Mitchell may lead Georgia back to ATL. He has seventeen total grabs in the past three games and two touchdowns. He runs shoddy routes sometimes but has the raw athleticism to break any game open, as he finally did when really needed in Jacksonville. UGA leads the SEC in plays of forty yards or more. Win today, and we will have beaten our sister school Auburn in 7-of-8, in the statistically most-competitive series in the long history of American college football ~ greatest sport in the world.
Filed under: athens, Auburn, bama, championships, Cocktail Party, family, Floor-DUH, GEORGIA, Gurley, King, LSU, Murray, Ogletree, ole miss, POWER FOOTBALL, records, richt, SEC, SEC East, SEC West, tech, THE ATL, travel, UGA
Florida sits atop the SEC East at the end of their SEC season, but it is not where they wanted to be. Georgia alum Will Muschamp led them to a one-loss season, but that loss was to the tiebreaker-owning Bulldogs, behind in the standings with a loss yet with a game to play. Georgia beats winless-in-the-SEC Auburn in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry Saturday night on the plains, at the jungle, and the ticket to Atlanta is stamped.
Last year in the Georgia Dome, the Dawgs opened the season with a minor beat down by excellent mid-major program Boise State and ended the year with a major second half beat down by elite SEC program Louisiana State. LSU won’t be back, after the Gators dumped them in the swamp and BAMA outlasted them on the bayou.
Georgia alum Kirby Smart lost a remarkable amount of NFL talent from his national championship defense at BAMA, but he has coached a mostly new defense to an undefeated season so far. Starting the year, Michigan was supposed to be good – they aren’t. Arkansas was supposed to be good – they aren’t. Through half the season, Mississippi State appeared to be a West contender. Two weeks and two blowouts later, they have been exposed as average at best. So, Alabama had literally had no test. They were intensely tested Saturday night in Death Valley and survived, though Mettenberger mostly picked them apart and their offense was as stoned as a Honey Badger for all of the second half, save a drive for the ages to win.
GEORGIA actually matches up nicely with (#1) Alabama. We have a big play defense which all the top scouts regard as having the most NFL talent in the country. Our passing offense is dynamically explosive – something BAMA has not faced all season – and our running game is led by beast Todd Gurley. He went for well over 100 again and was the only player all season to go for 100+ against Florida, even as they stacked the line with Murray in a funk.
Murray in a deep funk: now that could get us beat by BAMA. His composure under duress and the overall coaching will be the keys to the SEC championship game. But this is not BAMA week. This is not redemption time. This is time to dominate an inferior opponent, as we did Saturday Between the Hedges. Ole Miss was game and got up 10-0, before trailing 14-10 after a last gasp pass from Murray to TK at the end of the first half. Georgia would never look back as the game became a route dominated by Murray spreading the ball to many pass catchers.
For the first time ever, a pair of Georgia Bulldog brothers had consecutive scores. Stellar backup fullback Zander Ogletree ran one in, and then his non-identical twin Alec Ogletree scored a safety. It was the linebacker’s best all around game this abbreviated season, as he finally appears to have hit full stride several games after a lengthy suspension.
In the statistically closest series in college football history, Auburn has beaten Georgia only once in the last more than half dozen years, and that was with a national championship team led by what should have been an ineligible player. The last time Auburn won without “$CAM” Newton was DJ Shockley’s lone starting season – his only regular season loss as a starter at Georgia, to a very good Auburn team. Aubies’ single win before that featured Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown and a great team that went undefeated. Point being, this is not a good Auburn team. This is their worst, playing one of our best. A loss this season would be unforgivable. Auburn and Georgia began play in Piedmont Park, which is fitting as this game sends the Dawgs back to Atlanta…for redemption and an SEC championship.
In between the Alabama state school games, Georgia hosts the Peach state schools: Much like Ole Miss, Georgia Southern provides a great tailgating peer in the Classic City. They are the top FCS program in the country and may put up big numbers Between the Hedges with their virtually flawless triple option. Great practice for the next week, when a weaker than average GA Tech team visits with the same offense.
Georgia’s talent, as it did Saturday, should prove too much for the following three opponents. And then it is really time to shine. Georgia does not simply need to keep winning; we better get and stay rolling.
Filed under: athens, ATL, Auburn, bama, bobo, championships, Cocktail Party, College Football, Donnan, family, GEORGIA, Grantham, Greene, Gurley, kentucky, LSU, Marshall, media, Moreno, MUNSON, Murray, NCAA, ole miss, Pollack, POWER FOOTBALL, records, richt, SEC, SEC East, SEC West, Stafford, Texas A&M, UGA, vandy
Vandy and Kentucky, the historic two-team bottom tier in the SEC East and in the whole of the SEC, were regularly alternating Homecoming opponents in the Classic City for many years, with UGA winning every year in the modern era save one: a mid-season swoon during a 9-4 Matthew Stafford-led frosh campaign where UGA lost to Vandy (and then later at Kentucky, before winning the final four games).
For a time, Kentucky became decent at football and played regularly in bowls. Though they have now clearly faded back into the black, UGA stopped scheduling them as a Homecoming victim out of respect. Vandy too, without really earning it on the field, was soon given a pass against being locked into our Homecoming.
A fitting Homecoming opponent this season, Ole Miss played UGA every year through 2002. Their last win over the Dawgs came in Jim Donnan’s first season of 1996. That lone Rebel yell was the week after a draining UGA victory in the first ever SEC overtime game, which had gone to four O.T.s as Georgia upset Auburn. Good to have Mississippi back in the Classic City, where they have only played once since the every-season series ended. That trip resulted in a 45-17 UGA win featuring big individual games from Moreno and Thomas Brown as Georgia rolled to an 11-2 season and national #2 finish.
A closer look at the Georgia-Mississippi scores since Ole Miss last beat UGA reveals some relatively tight ballgames: 21-14, 24-17, 20-17, 14-9 and some pretty big Georgia wins. Last year’s game was an SEC breakthrough for the Dawgs on a conference losing streak, as UGA returned to national relevance with an SEC East championship.
To repeat as SEC East champs, Georgia must sweep the West by defeating Ole Miss Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with a national television audience watching on CBS and then by winning on the plains at Aubie (7:00 p.m., ESPN2). The Auburn game looked potentially dicey at season’s start, but the War Eagle-Tigers have won only one football game this year – a narrow overtime escape over Louisiana-Monroe. Georgia will win the East…at least. If not, the hot seat suddenly reappears under our sometimes beloved head coach’s rear.
Most Georgia fans are pulling for LSU on the bayou Saturday night, because we want a winnable rematch in the GA Dome, while the Honey Badger stays home stoned. However, facing BAMA may be a clearer path to the national championship – should Georgia somehow be solid enough to defeat an undefeated Tide team in the ATL. Prognosticators are already forecasting BAMA potentially losing at LSU and still getting to the big dance, which would in my opinion make a further mockery of college football. BAMA has won the West only once in the past three years and has only one SEC ring under Saban, with two national titles. Media darlings deserved it less than Okie State last year but won the popularity contest and then totally crushed LSU by following the blueprint Richt-Bobo-Grantham developed and implemented in the first half of the SEC championship game, until the Honey Badger struck and Murray had one of his big game meltdowns.
Speaking of meltdowns, Georgia has lost twice soon following big Cocktail Party wins since 1990: Auburn won in a wild night game in Athens during Donnan’s lone ten-win season at Georgia, and undefeated Aubie took out Top 5 UGA in Greene and Pollack’s senior years before being shunned for the national championship, though I feel they had the best team in the NCAA that year. A loss at Auburn this year would be ridiculous. And Georgia should be too talented for Ole Miss in Athens. Florida hangover should not be a big factor with a title on the line. But it may.
I look for top recruit Keith Marshall to have a huge game after being pushed to the bench by the far superior physicality of Todd Gurley. Gurley would be a solid lock for SEC Freshman of the Year if Johnny Football was not setting SEC records for my Grandpappy’s school, Texas A&M. He has a ton of passing yardage, is leading the conference in rushing and has the top two total yardage games in SEC history. My God a freshman…but I love our new GURSHALL thing, too. Time to get into postseason form, DAWGS.
Filed under: arkansas, athens, Auburn, bama, Border Bash, carolina, championships, Cocktail Party, College Football, Crowell, Floor-DUH, GEORGIA, Goff, Mizzou, records, richt, SEC, SEC East, SEC West, spurrier, tech, tennessee, THE ATL, travel, UGA, vandy, Vince Dooley
Mark Richt, the longest-tenured head football coach in the greatest American college football conference, headlined the SEC Media Days in Hoover, AL on July 19th. Over three gloriously long days in the Birmingham area, thirteen other head football coaches had spoken to the media masses. Richt stepped to the mic after 1 p.m., under a much different circumstance than existed in the previous preseason. After claiming a fourth SEC championship game berth by winning the SEC East and sweeping UGA’s four biggest rivals (Florida-Tech-Auburn-Tennessee), Richt is not on the proverbial hot seat as he was after two uncharacteristically subpar seasons Between the Hedges.
UGA is on an overall two-game losing streak and a two-game bowl skid. Georgia has lost two consecutive football contests to newer real rival, eleven-win South Carolina and old nemesis Steve Spurrier. The Dawgs have not defeated the Florida Gators in consecutive seasons since Vince Dooley handed the reigns to Ray Goff. Georgia has currently beaten the Auburn “War Eagle” Tigers in five-of-six games, in the record-wise most competitive rivalry in the long history of college football. The Border Bash, the Cocktail Party, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry: each will be played outside of the largest state east of the mighty Mississippi River (GEORGIA). Can UGA realistically be expected to sweep these games? And beat state rival Tech for an eleventh time in twelve tries. This quote unquote easy schedule has some serious pit mines.
Win the East and Georgia gets the best of the West in The ATL. Arkansas was #5 in the country and did not even have stud runner Kniles Davis. Bama has won two-of-three national championships, while only claiming one SEC West crown during that run. LSU won eleven games and then thirteen games and may still be ascending. Auburn is two years removed from a crystal ball.
Did I mention that rival and traditional powerhouse Tennessee was the single best passing offense in the conference when facing UGA in game five last season, without the services of the then-injured All-American talent of huge wideout Justin Hunter. They are finally healthy and are oh so hungry. Florida had a top ten in the nation defense, which returns nearly intact. South Carolina has the best pass rush tandem in the country and returns the SEC’s best running back. Even Vandy is suddenly upstart under Coach James Franklin and was a tipped pass from beating Georgia last year. Quarterback James Franklin put up huge passing numbers for Missouri, while rushing for more yardage than departed SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell. They are saying this will be the biggest game day environment in school history at “The Zoo” to start SEC play. I’ll be there.
Filed under: athens, ATL, Auburn, bama, Border Bash, carolina, championships, Cocktail Party, College Football, Floor-DUH, GEORGIA, Goff, Green, Greene, LSU, Moreno, records, richt, SEC, SEC East, SEC West, tech, tennessee, Vince Dooley
For the first time in his mostly successful eleven-year head coaching career at the nation’s oldest state chartered public university, Mark Richt was able to do what Jim Donnan and Ray Goff never could: beat our four biggest rivals in the same season. Richt’s best team went 13-1 but lost to Florida in a flukey game before finishing #3. Richt’s two-loss team which finished #2 dropped a game to S. Carolina (not big four) and was blown out in the first half at Tennessee, before winning out big behind undeniably dominant running by Moreno.
Ranking the rivalries:
1. Florida – Two down years for the swamp people, especially last season offensively, netted UGA an overtime loss and a hard-nosed win. Georgia has not beaten Florida in back-to-back seasons since Vince Dooley beat them regularly in the 1980s. Blame it on me if you like, as I enrolled at UGA in 1990, but since then we have been garbage in the Cocktail Party, the laughingstocks of Jacksonville. What was always “GEORGIA-FLORIDA” has suddenly been identified nationally as The Florida-Georgia Game, though UGA has never had a losing record versus UF in American college football; that’s how bad we have been. Goff: 0; Donnan: 1, Richt: 3. Pretty easy to graph that and see UGA has gone oh so slowly in the right direction. Last year was a bigger breakthrough than it should have been in a win over a team that barely cracked .500. This is the year Georgia can turn the rivalry. This game is our annual big media moment as a program, and we must win. Georgia simply can not lose in Jacksonville and be truly relevant.
2. Tech – Georgia has beaten GA Tech ten-of-eleven times and runs the state. If the rivalry does not ring for you, that is simply a product of UGA’s dominance. When Tech beat Georgia over three straight seasons, the reality of the rivalry was evident. When I sat on the front row of the 50-yard line in Midtown and watched freshmen David Greene and Fred Gibson win the state for Richt in his first campaign, the ice shower from the geeks was invigorating.
3. Auburn – The oldest football rivalry in the Deep South was first played in Piedmont Park of Atlanta. The Dawgs have won five-of-six in the close series and would be undefeated save the creative accounting eligibility of Cam Newton. They wanted at least $100,000 for him to play at Miss State, but he went to Aubie for free???
4. Tennessee – Rocky Top you will never be, the school for me. I lived in the Great Smoky Mountains a summer in middle school and liked it so much that UT was on my short list until my sophomore year of high school…when I visited the Classic City for a big frat party. The Vols have been bad for four years, but they will not stay down.
A. Georgia and Clemson are S. Carolina’s two biggest rivals, though Carolina is not near the top of our list of biggest rivals. Until lately. They have beaten us twice consecutively and are considered our stiffest competition for a repeat SEC East title after winning a school record eleven games.
B. Georgia and LSU have played for the SEC title three times with LSU taking two. Overall, Georgia has won three-of-five versus the Bayou Bengals and it would be four-of-five if SEC officials had not blown the whistle for a phantom call on AJ Green in Athens, which, and I quote the SEC, “Cost Georgia the game.” Georgia completely stuffed LSU for a half while developing a blueprint BAMA orchestrated to defeat LSU, but that 2nd half in ATL was ugly.
C. Georgia has beaten BAMA three-of-four but was back in black and preseason #1 when Bama started the game 31-0 (41-30 final) and went on a roll that netted two national championships, though surprisingly only one SEC West championship.
D. Clemson is Georgia’s nearest geographic rival, back on the schedule in 2013.
Filed under: athens, ATL, Auburn, bama, Border Bash, bowl games, carolina, championships, Cocktail Party, College Football, Crowell, Floor-DUH, GEORGIA, O-LINE, ole miss, SEC, SEC East, SEC West, tech, tennessee, travel, vandy
Last week of the year, so instead of rehashing 2011 it’s time to look ahead. BAMA – mighty BAMA – got dropped from the schedule as the SEC East has seven teams and now only two out-of-division slots. The Dawg Nation was originally looking to cruise the relatively short distance to the Capstone of Tuscaloosa, where we have a two-game winning streak. Georgia has won three-of-four overall versus Alabama. Thankfully, we will continue to play Auburn every year in the South’s Oldest Rivalry, first played in Piedmont Park of Atlanta. That custom simply had to continue, and we have won five-of-six versus Aubie and do not fear playing their next season. Since we played Ole Miss at Oxford this season, they are coming to Athens for the culmination of the home-and-home, in what was once an annual meeting. No LSU, no BAMA, no Arkansas – get used to it for another season, America. The conference plan for 2013 is not firmly set yet, but we know Bama is next up in rotation to play us. I anticipate the LSU series will be pushed back from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015. Out of conference, we will resume the old Clemson series in 2013 with our closest proximate geographic rival (few miles closer to Clemson from UGA than from UGA to Georgia Tech). With the non-divisional conference rotation now so deep and infrequent (seven total teams, six off and one always on, plus one more on for two seasons at a time), the divisional foes matter much more than ever before in the SEC. This is great for Georgia with the East perhaps the weakest it has ever been and 8-5 “Mizzou” replacing a potential loss to a strong SEC West program. When a team rolls off the schedule under the 2012 model (which, again, may be tweaked before 2013), you won’t see them again for a decade outside of a possible meeting in the SEC Championship Game. I was forty-one when UGA played at Oxford this football season. The Ole Miss alum I was playing with on a men’s basketball team at the time decided we should skip our planned trip together since the Rebs were so down. I may not have a chance to tailgate like William Faulkner until I’m in my fifties. But Georgia has a chance to establish itself as THE dominant program in the SEC East. The bye game being moved a week earlier and not immediately before Florida is a disadvantage, as UGA goes for back-to-back Cocktail Party wins for the first time since the 1980s. The toughest game on the schedule next year appears to be at South Carolina, but with this Border Bash moved way back to mid-season our young line will have much more time to gel in preparation for their tough defensive front. By then the rotation at running back should be established, with late season struggling SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell welcoming top high school runner Keith Marshall of Raleigh. Our schedule started tough but was mostly manageable in 2011. It looks much easier in 2012, though Vandy, Tennessee, Auburn should each be more mature and better. Florida has some glaring issues and big personnel losses. Winning the SEC Championship Game would be a big challenge, and getting there by finishing ahead of South Carolina looks for a third consecutive year to be the key. Georgia didn’t have the moxie to do it after a bad start in 2010, and the Gamecocks gifted it to the Dawgs in 2011. I think Georgia can win at the South Carolina State Fairground in 2012. Looking down this schedule, Georgia should be favored in every other game.
Last year’s story: Auburn down 21-7 to a motivated UGA team early in a huge rivalry game. They turn it on to stay undefeated behind alleged at best pay-for-play quarterback Cam Newton and certifiably dirty late hitting D-lineman Nick Fairley. Then trailing Bama 24-0, they do it again and play for it all and survive Oregon to win the national title.
This year’s game has one arching story: that of embattled Georgia head football coach Mark Richt. Coming off a 6-7 campaign, his only losing season in ten years at the helm of the football team of America’s oldest public state university. Having dropped two games to start a 2011 campaign highlighted by hot seat rumors and a less than usually rigorous conference schedule, Richt sits on the precipice of his first SEC East title since the year D.J. Shockley shocked LSU to win the conference. Richt won at Tennessee against the then leading quarterback in the conference. And he won at Jacksonville against a senior quarterback 1-0 versus UGA as a starter, to a program which had beaten UGA 18 of 21 times. He survived and mostly thrived by leading with discipline and a clearly level head and composed steady hand. Georgia has beaten everyone they were supposed to beat. And should win out.
At #15 in the BCS and set to face the #20 and #21 teams in the BCS, much still remains to be proven. Auburn and Tech would be the best two teams Georgia has beaten over at least two seasons. If this team is as improved as it appears, Georgia will beat a young Auburn team with the 11th-ranked defense in the SEC. UGA’s D is ranked 7th nationally. The Kentucky game in Athens would become nothing but a celebration and build-up to Tech. Win the Tech game and Richt will have these accomplishments: 10 of 11 versus Tech; a current 5 of 6 versus Auburn; a winning record against every SEC school except Florida and a clear current edge over them as a football program. Win the next game in the Georgia Dome and Richt will again be a champion and perhaps the National Coach of the Year. Lose any but that game and there will be somewhat deserved major derision amongst the emotional fan base. Richt is 2-1 in SEC title games; 7-3 in bowl games; 2-1 in BCS bowls. And this game is all about him.
Filed under: ATL, Auburn, bama, carolina, championships, Cocktail Party, Crowell, Floor-DUH, GEORGIA, Grantham, LSU, Mitchell, Murray, POWER FOOTBALL, records, richt, SEC, tech, tennessee, UGA, vandy | Tags: Dawgs
Speedy sophomore linebacker Jarvis Jones, a one-time USC Trojan and top high school player in the state of Georgia, finished the hated Vols between the checkerboards with a sack, in front of 102,000 fans and a national television audience. The top high school cornerback recruit in the nation last year, UGA wideout Malcolm Mitchell was far and away the best player in this big game with one hundred and twenty-eight receiving yards. Cohort freshman receiver Michael Bennet showed athleticism with a whirling spin for extra yardage. A third frosh receiver, Chris Conley is beginning to make some plays for sophomore QB Aaron Murray. Dominant Dream Team rusher Isaiah Crowell (pronounced “CROW-L” for those still not getting it right) fought through hard hits to add two touchdowns, the exact total of touchdowns second year Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s Junkyard Dawgs’ defense has yielded in the past four full football games – all Georgia wins. UGA’s top recruit, freshman linebacker Ray Drew saw significant playing time replacing the injured Cornelius Washington but was out-shined by the continued stellar play of backup freshman linebacker Amarlo Herrera. Playing like there is no tomorrow, that young fella. Next week is nighttime Nashville and the Vandy Dandies, but down the road is Atlanta. Powerful Georgia Tech. Then truly powerful Bama or LSU. Florida’s Jacksonville and old Auburn are merely speed bumps on our way to the SEC East title and the looming tilts for the state championship and conference championship. Georgia will be favored in the rest of their regular season SEC games and erase the ghosts of J-Ville and win out, while South Carolina will certainly drop another game or two. Then the competition will significantly stiffen. Will hundred-win SEC veteran head coach Mark Rickt have these young pups ready?
Filed under: ATL, Auburn, bama, championships, College Basketball, GEORGIA, kentucky, media, NCAA, records, SEC, Sports, taunts, tech, travel, UGA
In a rematch of teams that played into overtime in their only meeting this season, Georgia whipped Auburn in the opening round of the SEC men’s basketball tournament in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for a twenty-first win. Trey Thompkins and UGA’s other bigs dominated the outmanned and inexperienced Auburn post players all game, while the dual point threat of Gerald Robinson Jr. and Dustin Ware controlled the tempo with slashes and passes. Georgia’s weakness is clearly outside shooting, and the grand dimensions of the mammoth Dome did nothing to improve this quagmire. Today it did not matter, as the far superior team won. Georgia moves onto Friday action, where the SEC West Champion Alabama Crimson Tide awaits off a bye. Should Georgia win at 1:00 p.m., they would advance to a 1:00 p.m. Saturday semifinal – probably against Kentucky in a rubber match.
Joe Lunardi is widely considered the preeminent NCAA tournament entry prognosticator. Three days ago, he had UGA and BAMA both in the last four teams left out of the tournament. Prior to the tip of the SEC tournament, he had reevaluated and realized that Georgia has already proven itself worthy of a tourney berth – though a second loss to BAMA would obviously hurt our NCAA seeding. BAMA has a poor strength of schedule and an average at best RPI, while Georgia is relatively strong in both important categories.
The University of Colorado – a team UGA beat without the services of All-SEC forward Trey Thompkins – is also considered a barely-in bubble team at this point in prognostication and has a similar season resume to Georgia. UGA’s biggest wins: Kentucky, at Tennessee, (twenty-two-win) UAB. UGA’s worst loss: at BAMA. Win tomorrow, and NCAA tourney entry is all but guaranteed. Lose and the tournament selection committee may be forced to choose between UGA and BAMA. Though BAMA would merit consideration for beating Georgia twice, the overall season strength of Georgia would put the committee to a test of their values. Entire body of work is what the committee says they evaluate. Leaving UGA out for a poorly-rated BAMA team based on two games would show otherwise.
Win three more consecutive 1:00 p.m. games, and UGA would be SEC tournament champions for only the third time ever, while actually taking two-of-four. The 2008 SEC tourney saw a rather weak Georgia team rally to win four games in three days at Georgia Tech’s self-titled Thriller Dome, after the Georgia Dome’s roof was severely damaged by a tornado that passed through Downtown Atlanta.
Filed under: ATL, Auburn, bama, College Basketball, GEORGIA, Mark Fox, media, NCAA, records, SEC, Sports, travel, UGA
UGA looks like an invitee to the Big Dance, with 20 wins, no bad losses, a decent RPI and decent strength of schedule. However, 20-win SEC West Champion BAMA has an abysmal strength of schedule and far below stellar RPI, which may end up being the negative key for Georgia, should BAMA beat Georgia Friday at 1:00 p.m. in Atlanta.
If the tournament selection committee passes on Bama, the thinking goes, they may also pass on a Georgia team that has lost to Bama in two consecutive games for the Tide. Or if the committee decides they can only choose one, wouldn’t they take the winner in that game. First, UGA must win against Auburn at 1:00 p.m. Thursday to even get to play Friday. In an odd twist, a loss in the first round might actually serve UGA better than a loss in the second round, in terms of selection committee consideration, as losing to BAMA twice hurts our chances of playing in the Big Dance.
If Georgia loses to Auburn, I think we get in as a 12 seed. If we beat both Auburn and BAMA, we would probably move up to a 10 seed. Lose to BAMA again, and the DAWGS may be headed to the NIT.