These next three games could make or break Georgia’s season.
Georgia will travel to Kentucky Tuesday, which embarks the Bulldogs on a brutal SEC stretch that could have big implications when it comes to the postseason. Following the Kentucky game, the Bulldogs will travel to South Carolina Saturday and host Florida the following Tuesday. If Georgia can pull out two of the three games, its NCAA Tournament chances will be given a huge spike. Even one win may go a long way.
All three teams are in the RPI top 20, which should significantly boost Georgia’s strength of schedule. Any wins during this three-game span should then see Georgia’s own RPI move up.
The Bulldogs have missed some great opportunities during the year. A poor second half against Oakland, a devastating turn of events against Texas A&M and a blowout against Alabama are games Georgia would love to have back at the moment. If those three games were wins, Georgia’s sitting pretty at this stage of the season.
But those three games went the other way, making this upcoming stretch a pivotal time for Georgia to rectify its situation.
ESPN BPI: 73
Team record: 13-8 overall, 4-4 SEC
Non-conference strength of schedule: 26
Overall strength of schedule: 31
Record vs. RPI 1-50: 0-4
Record vs. RPI 50-100: 5-3
Record vs. RPI 101-200: 4-1
CBSSports.com conference RPI rankings: 1. ACC, 2. Big East, 3. Big 12, 4. Big Ten, 5. SEC, 6. Pac-12, 7. American Athletic, 8. Atlantic 10, 9. West Coast, 10. Mountain West
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi: Lunardi is still a believer in the Bulldogs hovering around the bubble. Last week, after the Texas A&M loss, Georgia was the third team out of his field of 68. After a loss to Alabama and a win over Texas, Georgia is in his “Next Four Out” category, along with Rhode Island, Utah and Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs are Lunardi’s fifth SEC team at the moment. He has four in the tournament, which are Kentucky (No. 2 seed), Florida (No. 5 seed), South Carolina (No. 6 seed) and Arkansas (No. 9 seed).
CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm: Palm still doesn’t have Georgia either in his field or in his “First Four Out” category. Unlike Lunardi, Palm does not have a “Next Four Out” group. It should be noted that after Georgia Tech’s big week, Palm has the Yellow Jackets in the field as a No. 8 seed. Georgia Tech has been surging lately and holds wins over North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame. Therefore, Georgia’s 17-point win in December over Georgia Tech could become huge down the road. Palm also has four SEC teams in the field with Kentucky (No. 3 seed), South Carolina (No. 6 seed), Florida (No. 7 seed) and Arkansas (No. 10 seed).
Current state of affairs
Last 10 games: 5-5
Wins that help: Georgia sure could have used an Ole Miss upset over Baylor. Previously its only top-50 win, the Rebels are now 12-9 and No. 68 in the RPI. This win could still help down the road but it remains to be seen. Vanderbilt (No. 59), Auburn (No. 60) and Georgia Tech (No. 65) are all teams trending upward that could eventually sneak into the top 50.
Losses that hurt: Oakland was seen as a team that could wind up not being as bad of a loss. Well, the Golden Grizzlies have now lost four of their past six games are ranked No. 156 in the RPI. Texas A&M, after a close loss to West Virginia, is still too far back at No. 81. Those two losses are the most likely to be looked at unfavorably by the NCAA selection committee.
A look around the SEC: No one is really talking about the SEC at the moment. After going 5-5 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, maybe more people should. Ole Miss almost beat Baylor, the new No. 2 ranked team in the country. Vanderbilt beat Iowa State, Tennessee blew out Kansas State and Auburn upended TCU. All three of these games were impressive wins for the SEC. Perhaps more attention should be placed on the SEC after what transpired Saturday.
What Georgia needs to do this week: No one will expect Georgia to beat Kentucky. But an upset isn’t unlikely, considering Tennessee picked one up against the Wildcats last week. While the Bulldogs won’t be picked to beat Kentucky, Georgia very well could upset South Carolina in Columbia. The two teams played a hard-fought game at Stegeman Coliseum on Jan. 4. In the short-term view, that game against the Gamecocks may as well be viewed as the most important of Georgia’s season.