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Jeff Schultz

Expert: Georgia’s NCAA hopes rest on win over Florida or Kentucky

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Mark Fox's team still has a lot of work to do if it hopes to reach the NCAA tournament. (AP photo)

Mark Fox’s team still has a lot of work to do if it hopes to reach the NCAA tournament. (AP photo)

Georgia has been on a nice run, winning six of its last seven and 10 of 15 SEC games overall. But according to one college basketball capologist, it’s not nearly enough to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee and the Bulldogs probably will have to beat Kentucky or Florida to even get into the conversation.

I spoke to Jerry Palm of CBS Sports. His current projected NCAA bracket has Florida and Kentucky in the tournament field and two SEC teams, Missouri and Arkansas, in play-in games. You can find Palm’s projected bracket if you click here.

Palm said, “It’s possible, but not likely,” that the selection committee puts only two SEC teams in the tournament, something that hasn’t happened since 1979 (when it was a 40-team field).

“The odds are good that somebody will emerge and play well enough to get in — it just remains to be seen who that is,” Palm said. “But the committee isn’t going to approach it as, ‘We only have two teams; we have to pick a third.’ Somebody will have to play their way in.”

He believes the chances remain slim that it will be Georgia. Beating Missouri twice – including last night’s 71-56 win at Stegeman Coliseum, is pretty impressive. But that’s all the Dogs really have on their resume. Their RPI of .5526 ranks 82nd in the nation and eighth among SEC teams.

When I asked Palm what it would take to make the NCAA field, his first response was: “Win the SEC tournament. Georgia has way too many negatives and hasn’t done anything to make up for it. In a sense they may be a victim of scheduling because they didn’t get the Florida or Kentucky games at home. But they have some bad losses.”

Georgia has three games left. It likely will finish third in the SEC, which would mean a double-bye in the conference tournament. One win would put the Bulldogs into the semifinals, likely against Florida or Kentucky. Would that be enough?

“Just to make an argument that you’re the third-best team in the conference, you have to beat Florida or Kentucky and get into the finals,” Palm said. “Actually, the worst thing that could happen to Georgia would be if Kentucky lost [in the quarters] and Georgia didn’t get a chance to play them. Then they could make it to the finals without a win of significance.”

Do you agree with Palm’s assessment that Georgia needs a win over Florida or Kentucky – and maybe both – to get into the NCAA tournament?

The cyber-floor is yours.

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