These past two seasons suddenly look awfully familiar.
A year ago, Georgia experienced three tough losses in a row to Florida, Vanderbilt and Auburn that appeared to eliminate it from NCAA Tournament consideration. The Bulldogs then reeled off five consecutive wins, including two in the SEC Tournament, to at least get back in the discussion.
This year, Georgia suffered consecutive defeats to Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida. Granted that those three teams are the best in the SEC, the Bulldogs sure could have used a win against any of them to help its case out. Instead, it seemed easy to write Georgia's NCAA Tournament hopes off.
But then Georgia rallied from 14 down and defeated a top-50 opponent at Tennessee. Looking at the schedule, winnable games against Mississippi State, LSU, Alabama and Auburn are up for the taking. Winning one against Kentucky or Arkansas would be tremendous.
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Perhaps Georgia's win over Tennessee can serve as a catalyst for this late-season stretch. The bubble, at the moment, is fairly weak. Anything remains possible, as long as wins are a part of Georgia's equation.
ESPN BPI: 66
Team record: 14-11 overall, 5-7 SEC
Non-conference strength of schedule: 37
Overall strength of schedule: 23
Record vs. RPI 1-50: 1-6
Record vs. RPI 51-100: 6-4
Record vs. RPI 101-200: 3-1
CBSSports.com conference RPI rankings: 1. ACC, 2. Big 12, 3. Big East, 4. Big Ten, 5. SEC, 6. Pac-12, 7. American Athletic, 8. Atlantic 10, 9. West Coast, 10. Mountain West
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi: As expected, Georgia is not in Lunardi's field of 68 and isn't considered in the "First Four Out" or "Next Four Out" categories. As for the SEC, Lunardi has Kentucky and Florida as No. 3 seeds, which is where the NCAA Tournament selection committee has them at the moment. Past the top 16 teams, South Carolina is a No. 6 seed and Arkansas is a play-in No. 12. Tennessee, the team Georgia just beat, is considered Lunardi's first team out of the tournament at the moment.
CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm: In addition, Palm doesn't have Georgia in his bracket. Kentucky and Florida are also on the 3-line for the time being after the committee's reveal. The only other SEC team Palm has in the tournament is South Carolina, which is a No. 6 seed. Palm has Arkansas as his first team out and Mississippi as his third team out.
Worth noting: While Lunardi and Palm don't have Georgia in the field, the website BracketMatrix.com has Georgia in close range for consideration. BracketMatrix.com combines projected brackets from all over the web and into a composite list. After the "First Four Out" and "Next Four Out" groups, Georgia is the second team listed. This essentially places the Bulldogs as the 10th team from entering the field, at least according to this particular list.
This has to do with statistician Kenneth Massey's ratings. Massey has Georgia projected as an 11-seed and is the only one out there placing the Bulldogs in the tournament at the moment. Now, BracketMatrix.com lists teams from mid-major conferences with many more projected seed-lines than Georgia. But those teams are coming from one-bid leagues, which is why they're ranked below the Bulldogs.
The point is, Georgia may not be as far off from the tournament as some people may be thinking.
Current state of affairs
Last 10 games: 4-6
Wins that help: The Bulldogs got its biggest win of the season against Tennessee. The Volunteers were in the RPI top-40 at the time of the win but have fallen back to No. 47 since losing. Georgia fans must also be Tennessee fans moving forward so that this particular win stays in the top-50.
The win over Ole Miss could be one that continues to benefit Georgia. The Rebels have been playing better basketball and now have an RPI No. 59 ranking. Georgia also has RPI top-75 wins over Vanderbilt, Auburn and UNC-Asheville. The Commodores did Georgia no favors by losing to Missouri, however. If Vanderbilt took care of business against the SEC's worst team, the Bulldogs would have two top-50 wins.
Losses that hurt: Georgia's worst loss remains at Oakland, with the Golden Grizzlies' RPI ranking at No. 145. Marquette and Texas A&M have recently been on slides, too. Marquette is now No. 84 and Texas A&M is No. 92.
A look around the SEC: Two teams, Kentucky (9) and Florida (10), are in the RPI top 10. Another is in the top-25 in South Carolina (21). Arkansas (43) and Tennessee (47) are in the top-50. Georgia (53), Ole Miss (59), Vanderbilt (65), Auburn (66) and Alabama (74) are in the top-75. This conference is a lot tougher than people have given it credit for throughout the year. And unfortunately for the league, two recent wins by bottom-feeder Missouri over Arkansas and Vanderbilt have kept these numbers from being even stronger.
What Georgia needs to do this week: Georgia absolutely has to beat Mississippi State. The only way it can overcome a loss would be to then defeat Kentucky on Saturday. And even in that scenario, a second loss to an RPI sub-100 team may be too much to overcome. If Georgia defeats Mississippi State, it can afford a loss to Kentucky since that will be expected. But a win over both teams could get the national folks talking about Georgia as a bubble team again.