ATHENS - It’s been kind of boring this year not breaking down the NCAA tournament bubble and the RPI. Instead we’re left with this: Will Georgia get the 10th or the 11th seed in next week’s SEC tournament?
The chances of getting that 10th seed were greatly enhanced by Saturday’s upset of Florida. Coupled with Auburn’s loss to Arkansas, it moved the Bulldogs into a tie with Auburn for 10th place. But the Tigers have the tiebreaker via their head-to-head.
Georgia has one game in which it will be a heavy underdog (Thursday at No. 1 Kentucky) and another it will be a heavy favorite (Saturday against South Carolina). Auburn plays at Alabama on Wednesday, then hosts LSU on Saturday.
And Georgia can still finish in last place, should it lose twice this week, including Saturday at home to South Carolina, and if the Gamecocks also beat Mississippi State on Wednesday.
But finishing ninth or higher appears out of reach, because Georgia would have to win out this week and have Arkansas and/or or Mississippi State lose out.
So who will Georgia play in the tournament? That’s even tougher to figure, given the congestion in the middle of the standings: Two games separate fourth place from ninth. Should the Bulldogs finish 10th, they play the seventh seed, and right now there’s a three-way tie at seventh between Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Should the Bulldogs finish 11th, they will play the sixth seed, and as of right now that is LSU.
So as you can see, there are still a lot of ways this could go.
Meanwhile, the bracket nerd in me still can’t help but scan the RPI ratings and make a few observations. Here’s how the SEC teams rank in the RPI ratings (according to realtimerpi.com), along with their overall and conference records:
3. Kentucky (28-1, 14-0)
17. Florida (22-7, 10-4)
21. Vanderbilt (20-9, 9-5)
29. Alabama (19-9, 8-6)
61. Mississippi State (19-10, 6-8)
63. LSU (17-11, 7-7)
71. Ole Miss (16-12, 6-8)
95. Arkansas (18-11, 6-8)
102. Tennessee (16-13, 8-6)
121. Georgia (13-15, 4-10)
127. Auburn (14-14, 4-10)
179. South Carolina (10-18, 2-12)
Those first four teams have probably punched their NCAA ticket. Mississippi State needs to finish strong. The rest have to at least make it to Sunday in New Orleans, and probably win it. Tennessee has to be kicking itself for not doing better in its non-conference schedule.
One other observation: This is a pretty down year for men’s basketball in the state of Georgia. The RPI ratings for each Peach State team:
115. Mercer (20-9)
121. Georgia (13-15)
140. Georgia State (19-10)
187. Georgia Tech (9-18)
195. Georgia Southern (12-13)
199. Savannah State (16-10)
329. Kennesaw State (2-27)
Final note: If you’re looking for a positive from Georgia’s season (besides just beating Florida), consider that the Bulldogs have a chance to own wins over as many as a half-dozen teams that make the NCAA tournament:
- Florida is a shoo-in.
- Notre Dame has come out of nowhere to go 12-4 in the Big East and now has an RPI rank of 42.
- Mississippi State (19-9) is squarely on the bubble.
- Mercer (20-9) has a chance to win the Atlantic Sun tournament, which it is hosting.
- South Dakota State (21-7) is one of the top seeds in the Summit League tournament.
- And even Delaware State (11-12) will be one of the top three seeds in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
And who knows, what if Georgia goes to Rupp Arena and … Well, let’s wait and see.