Posted: 11:31 am Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

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

By Jeff Schultz

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.

57 comments
Contractor1
Contractor1

As an Alabama fan, I really like Mike Fox.  I think the guy was dealt a pretty crappy hand at Georgia and has sustained a level now, and can start to build.  If Caldwell-Pope had stayed, he would have a pretty killer team right now.  Once he finally snags one of these inner-city Atlanta kids, he'll be a fixture in the tournament.  He's gonna have to turn it up a notch and out recruit Tech and the bigger teams like Duke, Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Kansas, and others that come in and poach the state.

mafalcon
mafalcon

Nothing helps recruiting more than success.  Nothing hurts recruiting more than lack of success.  No matter how good a job GA does at recruiting, until they establish a culture of success on the court, they will not get the high-caliber players.  If GA and KY show up to recruit a 5 Star player, where is he likely headed today?  GA is on the right track with Coach Fox, but it takes time to build a culture of success, especially with the one or two-year and off to the NBA players.  GA will be better served to go to the NIT this year and celebrate their successful rebound to a poor start.  Participating in the NIT, where they may have a better opportunity to hang around longer than the NCAA, will be an encouragement to the players and coaches, and should help recruiting.

NCDawg
NCDawg

don't follow college basketball avidly.  It is a low priority for me, although it is higher on the scale than the NBA.  Does anyone know of a successful program that has a good "teacher" coach that has an assistant that is the killer closer?  That would be ideal for Georgia.  Mark Fox can coach but he needs something more than what he brings to the table as a recruiter.  I don't know what that would be but it's a shame that a guy that can develop talent the way he does can't get a big fish to break the ice.


Is there a killer recruiter that can't develop talent that would come be an Assistant Head Coach?  Just wondering.

NCDawg
NCDawg

It's a long shot even if the Dawgs were to upset UF or Kentucky.  The national perception of SEC basketball is very low.  The RPI will not rise enough to get consideration unless the Dawgs somehow win the SEC Tournament.  The chnaces of that are pretty small.

andrech3
andrech3

No, I don't agree. If UGA beats LSU at their place after sweeping Mizzou then they should get consideration ahead of both of those teams. Since when do we put all this faith in a RPI index?

ThomasBrownUGA
ThomasBrownUGA

The women's Lady Bulldogs' Basketball Team also must beat the remaining teams this season.

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

Palm is right, although his last comment doesn't make any sense. He says the worst thing that could happen is for UGA to get to the SEC finals without having played Kentucky. Really, that's the worst thing? We'd just need one win to punch our ticket to the Dance at that point. I'll take that worst-case scenario any day of the week.

The Dawgs are probably looking at the NIT this year, which would be a fine achievement given that they entered this year with a ton of inexperience and no expectations. Next year, with virtually their entire squad coming back, is when they can be expected to make a real move.

HotDawg
HotDawg

SEC tourney is in Atlanta this year, isn't it? UGA Tornado Time?!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

This team is starting to feel like the one that had it going on during the tornado damaging SEC tournament run a few years ago.

At home in Larryville
At home in Larryville

One point about the stupidity of the RPI.  The whole thing pretty much emphasizes 12 or so games of willy-nilly early season non-conference play over 16-18 games of league play that takes place after teams become seasoned following the non-conference schedule. Ideally, if revenues were a non-factor, a team would load up on road games against mid majors and hope those opponents did really well in their leagues.


Georgia actually lucked out because their non-conference opponents have some pretty decent records and Florida. Their RPI anchors are the bottom four in the SEC.  The last factor in RPI, the opponents' opponents' winning percentage, is always going to run somewhere close to .500 just because the amount of teams and games involved, and league play.  Given that everyone plays each other at least once, the opponents' opponents' winning percentage just for league games is always going to be .500, making non-conference that much more important.


So in reality, the RPI rewards teams for play in November and December rather than league play and punishes teams like Georgia who get better during the season.  Case in point is Tennessee, who is 16-11, 7-7 but is living off of games against Wichita State and Virginia. Not a tournament team based on their league play but they are still "on the bubble" on ESPN and CBS because of RPI impact of games played in December.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Mark Fox is a very good basketball coach. It is time for top talent to take notice.

No matter what happens after today, UGA has had a great second half of the season.

The team has improved, when they easily could have folded.

All without KCP (in the pros) or any star power.

They are an unselfish group of players that all contribute to the team. On offense and defense.

At home in Larryville
At home in Larryville

I think it is fairly certain that Georgia has to win these last 3, a game in the SEC quarters, and at least put up a fight in the semis vs KEntucky in a game that will feel like a road game in the Georgia Dome, of all places.  Now, a win in that scenario should do it, but say the Dawgs lose to UK, then it really comes down to the math.  There are about 48 bids up for grabs after the one-bid conferences are accounted for.  Usually there is  at least one team that sneaks an auto-bid from a multiple bid conference so, in theory, so those 47 spots should be for the top 47 teams in basketball AT THE END OF THE SEASON.  Question should be: is Georgia one of the top 47 teams in basketball right now.  Not what their RPI is or what their "body of work" is like Joe Lunardi and the talking ESPN heads gab about to fill web space and air time. I think RPI is the most useless and overrated metric outside of WAR in baseball.


So, IS Georgia one of the best 47 teams in basketball?  I don't know, they play like it at home but a couple of solid road wins and good tourney showing may at least convince those on the committee who give little weight to the RPI.  But I don't think the Dawgs should be evaluated on games they played four months ago in November  And I think if they do make their run, it would be ridiculous to leave them out for some team in the ACC or B1G that couldn't finish above .500 in league play.

At home in Larryville
At home in Larryville

I think it is fairly certain that Georgia has to win these last 3, a game in the SEC quarters, and at least put up a fight in the semis vs KEntucky in a game that will feel like a road game in the Georgia Dome, of all places.  Now, a win in that scenario should do it, but say the Dawgs lose to UK, then it really comes down to the math.  There are about 48 bids up for grabs after the one-bid conferences are accounted for.  Usually there is  at least one team that sneaks an auto-bid from a multiple bid conference so, in theory, so those 47 spots should be for the top 47 teams in basketball AT THE END OF THE SEASON.  Question should be: is Georgia one of the top 47 teams in basketball right now.  Not what their RPI is or what their "body of work" is like Joe Lunardi and the talking ESPN heads gab about to fill web space and air time. I think RPI is the most useless and overrated metric outside of WAR in baseball.


So, IS Georgia one the best 47 teams in basketball?  I don't know, they play like it at home but a couple of solid road wins and good tourney showing may at least convince those on the committee who give little weight to the RPI.  But I don't think the Dawgs should be evaluated on games they played four months ago in November  And I think if they do make their run, it would be ridiculous to leave them out for some team in the ACC or B1G that couldn't finish above .500 in league play.

Adamsran
Adamsran

He's right.  But the team got better as the year went along.  It's clear CMF can coach.  The challenge has been recruiting.  He's worked his butt off and had a couple of critical 'just misses' - but he has to hit some homeruns or UGA will have to look elsewhere.


There is just too much talent in this state for Georgia to be anything less than a Top 25 team year in and year out.  When you watch some of these smaller schools pull it off - you know it can be done.


Georgia has the facilities, has the name, they just need to change the culture with AAU coaches and that can get them over the top.



jbperren
jbperren

They deserve to be in a postseason tournament which is a big turnaround for UGA in recent years. I would be happy with an NIT invite.

stdno2man
stdno2man

UGA deserves to be in. How can you play yourself out in Nov/Dec if the committee says they look at the entire body of work. It stands to reason that a young team that loss not only it best player (KCP) but the best player in the league would need time to get its sea legs. Lastly how can everyone keep saying the SEC is weak when it has 9 teams in the top 100. TN beat VA (the second place team in the ACC) by 30 and no one is bashing the ACC. Look at LSU, MO and Ark non-conference wins and then tell me the SEC is weak. No the truth is UGA is beating good teams. Entering the SEC conference schedule there were 5 teams FL, KY, MO, Ark, TN) that were in the field and two (LSU, Ole Miss) firmly on the bubble. UGA is 5-3 against those teams.


I disagree that UGA is no talented. UGA started the season young.Their last two classes are guys who are going to keep getting better.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

Just wanted to say good luck to the dawg basketball team, always like a underdog so i am pulling for CMF. They been on a roll!!

agentoranj90
agentoranj90

I'm biased as a Dawg fan, but I think the Dawgs should get in.  For whatever reason, it has become a tough road to hoe in the SEC.  I haven't watched much hoops this year, but the perception is that the SEC is terrible.  It may be so, but I really can't remember a SEC team with 10-11 wins in the conference not making it to the dance.  The real killer is their non-SEC record and the fact none of those were quality wins.  Even still, this year is a huge success for the Dawgs after they were picked to finish 11th in the conference. 

JaySly
JaySly

the dogs need to upgrade and get a big time arena--some Ga fatcats need to pump in 30-40 million to build a state of the art palace that will get the top recruits----they need to clean house.  i'm tired of these mediocre teams.

GTRay
GTRay

Even though I'm a Tech grad, I have to tip my hat to the UGA BB team & coaches.   What a tremendous job they've done this year, a year when I don't think even the most die hard UGA fans would have predicted they'd be in 3rd place at 10-5 this late in the season, especially after the poor non-conference start.  I'll be pulling for them to make the NCAAs (even though it's practically a certainty we won't).


P.S.  And there's no way that Fox's job should be in jeopardy.  He's certainly proved himself this year.  In fact, I believe he should be coach of the year.

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

First - thanks Schultz for writing this. I've been wondering what their assessment was for a week.

We'll win two out of the last 3, go 1-1 in the tourney and finish 19-13 and 12-6 (3rd) in conference.

If you told us that would happen before the season, we would've given Fox a standing ovation. He or Billy D will win coach of the year.

Fox IS a great basketball coach and this season proves it. Thornton is the only player above 3 stars on the roster.

BUT - fox could be the slickest recruiter in the country but until these 3 things happen, we will never pull more than the occasional KCP, Lou Williams or Carlos Strong (Strong and Terrell Bell were Mcdonalds all Americans in '92 out of Cedar Shoals and I got to watch then from my seat on the bench. Strong still the best HS player I ever saw). The 3 things:

1. The gym - it's still a rodeo house. Despite "upgrades", it's the worst home court building in the sec.

2. The culture. Winning breeds fans, blah blah. If that gym was packed every game - Uga wins 2-3 more games a year right off the bat. Florida was a football school too - and they built a winner.

3. Get TWO elite recruits on one team. Harder to do than just saying it - but unlike football, it just takes one top notch point guard and an atheltic big to make Grorgia relevant. Thompkins and Leslie are the closest we've come - and that team wasn't too shabby.

UGA has a great college town, good weather, a major conference and an atheltic dept with tons if money - if Fox had UKs roster, he would get to the final 4 every year.

TampGator1
TampGator1

Georgia is currently playing well enough to be a NCAA tourney team.....but entry is based on the entire season, not just now.  And the Dawgs simply do not have a signature win this year and they do have multiple bas losses to some bad teams.  

jc_dawgs
jc_dawgs

I think there may be a back door. The Dawgs are currently 80th in the rpi...up from 89th. If they win against ark ms st and lsu...at that point they should have an rpi in the 60s perhaps. They would then need to win there 1st sec tournament game. Then...if they at least play a close game against Ky but lose...they could still be a bubble team. Tall tall order though.


Remember the Alabama team from a few years ago. They won the west...went 12-4 in the conf...did well in the sec tourney but they finished low 80s in the rpi. They did not make the ncaa tournament.

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

Win out in regular season conference play and get a win in the tournament. At least make it difficult on the committee. 20-12 isn't impressive on the surface, but a 13-5 conference record with sweeps over Arkansas and Missouri would give the Dawgs a solid, if unspectacular, case.

TouchdownGurley
TouchdownGurley

I'm very impressed with the improvement Georgia has shown since the start of the season and am very pleased with the season overall, but at the moment Georgia simply doesn't deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky and Florida destroyed us and Tennessee cruised past us. Fox has made this team better than most Georgia fans expected after the way the season started, but we are not tournament-worthy at the moment. NIT? Absolutely. But not NCAA-worthy. 


That being said, I'm very excited to watch this team the rest of the reason. Gaines and Thornton have really improved and shown why people thought they could be good contributors for Georgia. 

SonomaCountyDawg
SonomaCountyDawg

Agree with the assessment. The Dawgs are becoming a pretty good team but they are not tournament worthy. I think winning the SEC is the only chance. I think their only chance in that is IF Kentucky or Florida lose. I don't see us beating both of those teams in consecutive days.


KarlWelzein is right. The GT and Temple losses look really bad. All other losses were to pretty good teams. Oh, and the blow outs losses don't help either. We got throttle by UK, UF, and UT.


I'll take the tourney if they get it, but I am hopeful for a long run in the NIT so they can extend the season and get more experience for next year.


Fox can coach, but I do think the talent needs to be upgraded. We don't need 3 McDonald All-Americans, but we will never really compete for a title with the talent we are getting. I don't mean to take away anything from the current team, because they play hard and have HUGE hearts. But when I watch other games from other conferences, there is marked difference in the players Duke, Ohio State, Syracuse,, Arizona, and Kansas have. 

Andy123
Andy123

At least UGA excels at girls gymnastics. 

DawgNight
DawgNight

I love this team, great chemistry! 

I would prefer a deep run in NIT( maybe win it), as opposed to a 1st round exit from the dance.

I think this would be better for our confidence moving foward.

KarlWelzein
KarlWelzein

The losses to Tech and Temple are really coming back to haunt us, you guys. 

gmwdawg
gmwdawg

Its hard to believe this is the same team that got off to such a poor start.  One of the flaws in the rating system is that it doesn't take into account how much a team has improved.   What a season this might have been if KCP had stayed but water under the bridge now.  Anything could happen at the SEC tourney but it is a shame if we have to win it to go to NCAA.  As good as we are, I can't see us coming close to beating Florida, Kentucky is vulnerable with so many freshmen but they are a lot deeper with talent.  I think we are definitely one of the top 64 teams in the country regardless of what the RPI says.

DIT
DIT

Love my Dawgs, but will not happen. UF & UK are head and shoulders above the rest of the SEC. SEC is weak this year. UF & UK are the only ones who deserve to go. Give our Dawgs the same basketball schedule as tech and we would have the same record as they have.

Oldschooldog
Oldschooldog

If Dogs go 13-5 in conference, they're probably in. If they go 13-5 and win Friday night opener in Dome, they're def in.

ChrisStacy
ChrisStacy

I think Georgia has to get to 20 or more wins to even be considered.  That would mean winning out the remainder of the regular season and winning at least once in the SEC Tourney.  However, because Georgia got off to such a bad start to begin the season, it may be that they need a "Signature" win to get the nod.

Either way, what Mark Fox has done with this group has been amazing.  The guy can coach.  If we can just get the good players to stay long enough for him to build a solid team he might be able to get  Dawgs hoops on the map.

NCDawg
NCDawg

@mafalcon building success without top flight talent takes longer than most coaches are given in this day and age.  What needs to happen is for the up and comer team to land a difference maker and ride that notoriety to enough success to warrant a look from the top tier guys.  And from what I understand, Georgia has a crippling lack of contacts in the AAU leagues in Metro Atlanta.  That has to be cultivated and it isn't happening from everything that I've heard.


Coach Fox needs a break, a big break or I'm afraid his stay at Georgia will not last much longer.  Looking at the resources available, everything says Georgia should be a basketball powerhouse but we aren't and never have been.  The wealth of talent in this state remains untapped by the local programs.  That leaves it available to the hoops dynasties.  If you want to play Pro ball, you go to those schools.  It's just the way it is.

Contractor1
Contractor1

Wojo at Duke would be my best guess.  Him and Collins do a pretty good job.  of course, Duke recruits itself by simply being Duke and Coach K.

HotDawg
HotDawg

They do have the road win over Missouri ( when they were considered a good team).

And the committee does like teams that are on a hot streak going into tournament play.

Will it be enough? Who knows. I think they are capable of winning last 3. Two might be enough if they can get to the sec championship game. Two out of last 3 regular season wins also guarrantees the 3rd seed and a double-bye in sec tournament.

Not too shabby for a basketball team that is constantly ridiculed. Many times by those who haven't watched them play.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@Bubbatavious Guy lost his father in mid season and kept on rolling, show a little respect.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Arena has nothing to do with it. Winning on the court packs the fans in anywhere. Stegeman Coliseum is raucous when team wins.

And the basketball court is the same width, length, and rim height no matter what building it's in.

Duke's arena is an old sweatbox. Do they need to change it?

HotDawg
HotDawg

Doesn't Duke play in an old sweatbox?

Just win and it will never matter what building you play in. The fans that flock to see the winning team becomes the building. The courts will always be the same size everywhere.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Phillipdj Billy D will be the SEC coach of the year.  Losing 3 seniors last year after going to the Elite 8 and then doing all the damage this year... should be a unanimous vote.  Fox would be worthy if he could only recruit better talent, his coaching and teaching skills are definitely top-notch.

WDE
WDE

@TampGator1   fair statement I'm just glad to see the improvement needed for (I hope) Fox to be able to keep his job .

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

If that isn't good enough, go to the NIT and make some noise. Everybody but Donte Williams should be back next season, so there will be continuity in the roster and the foundation established in 2013-14 should lead to a successful NCAA run next season.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@DIT Not just "head and shoulders", but all the body parts above the waste and even a few below.

jeeperscrow
jeeperscrow

@ChrisStacy The problem is Fox is the one who has to go out and get the players. Coaching is only part of his job. Recruiting is the other part, and he's terrible at that.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@DIT Argh.  WAIST.  what a waist....

ChrisStacy
ChrisStacy

@jeeperscrow  I understand what you are saying but consider this:  Thorton and Leslie left early for the NBA.  Fox advised them they should stay college on more year but they didn't listen and now neither is playing in the NBA.  If those two return for their senior years Fox's Dawgs are a Sweet 16 and possible Elite 8 team.   KCP leaves early for the NBA last season.  If he is on this current team the Dawgs would be going dancing.   I agree we need to land more top notch players than we are getting but when you look at what he's lost and has still accomplished with this team I think UGA would be making a huge mistake if they let Fox go and bring in someone new.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@ChrisStacy  Billy D lost three seniors from last year's Elite 8 team and look at what he has this year.  If you're two players away from being only average, your recruiting is the problem.


I'm not advising Fox needs to be let go, but Fox needs to do something to beef up his recruiting and do it fast or he won't be around much longer.