The knee-jerk reaction was to claim Georgia’s loss to Arkansas was the end of its at-large NCAA Tournament hopes.
That doesn’t appear to be the case at all.
Perhaps people forgot that Arkansas is a top-30 team and that the game was played in Fayetteville. It was also the fourth game in a row the Bulldogs had without forward Yante Maten, who was sorely needed to combat Arkansas big man Moses Kingsley down low.
Georgia could have definitely used a win over Arkansas to strengthen its NCAA Tournament resume. A victory would have likely allowed Georgia to win only one game in the SEC Tournament and still earn admission into the big dance. Instead, the Bulldogs will probably need two wins, if not three, to receive an invite.
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Georgia, seeded eighth, will take on ninth-seed Tennessee in Thursday’s second-round matchup. The winner earns a meeting with top-seed Kentucky the following day. It’s certainly not the most favorable draw. Then again, Georgia played Kentucky as good as any team that came up short in both of their previous meetings.
Georgia was on the brink of losing control of its season before. It resurrected its hopes by winning five of its last seven games.
In postseason play, anything can happen. Georgia will hope anything that does happen turns out in its favor over the course of the week.
ESPN BPI: 69
Team record: 18-13 overall, 9-9 SEC
Non-conference strength of schedule: 21
Overall strength of schedule: 17
Record vs. RPI 1-50: 1-8
Record vs. RPI 51-100: 7-4
Record vs. RPI 101-200: 7-1
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: Georgia began last week as one of Lunardi’s “First Four Out” teams. The Bulldogs then beat Auburn and moved to the “Next Four Out” category, albeit as the fifth overall team on the outside. After Saturday’s loss to Arkansas, Lunardi dropped Georgia completely off his board. As for the rest of the conference, Lunardi has five SEC teams in – Kentucky (No. 2 seed), Florida (No. 4 seed), South Carolina (No. 7 seed), Arkansas (No. 9 seed) and Vanderbilt (No. 11 seed).
CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm: Palm also dropped Georgia off of his board, although he only posts a “First Four Out” group. The Bulldogs were on it a week ago and are now off of it. Palm has Kentucky (No. 2 seed), Florida (No. 4 seed), South Carolina (No. 8 seed) and Arkansas (No. 10 seed) in his field of 68. Vanderbilt is in the “First Four Out” category.
USA Today/BracketWAG.com’s Shelby Mast: Of the major bracketologists, Mast is the only one not to move Georgia after Saturday’s loss. The Bulldogs are still sitting in his “First Four Out” group as his second team on the outside looking in. The SEC teams he has in the bracket at the moment are Kentucky (No. 2 seed), Florida (No. 4 seed), South Carolina (No. 6 seed), Arkansas (No. 9 seed) and Vanderbilt (No. 10 seed).
Current state of affairs
Last 10 games: 5-5
Wins that help: Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt is its lone top-50 victory of the season. From there, Georgia’s next best victory is over RPI No. 68 Mississippi. UNC-Asheville (No. 74) and Tennessee (No. 75) are the only other top-75 wins. With poor performances of late, Alabama (No. 92), Auburn (No. 93) and Georgia Tech (No. 94) have all slid into the 90s.
Losses that hurt: Just when Georgia’s loss to Oakland didn’t seem like a bad one anymore, the Golden Grizzlies dropped a game to Youngstown State in the Horizon League Tournament. That moved Oakland from No. 100 to 117, securing it as Georgia’s worst loss of the year. While the loss at home against Alabama was tough to take, the one on the road against Texas A&M also looms incredibly large right about now.
A look around the SEC: Florida (No. 5), Kentucky (No. 7) and Arkansas (No. 29) are the SEC’s representatives in the RPI top-30. South Carolina slipped to No. 33 after its loss to Ole Miss. Vanderbilt is in nice position at No. 44 and Georgia is next in line at No. 53.
What Georgia needs to do this week: First and foremost, for any shot to get into the NCAA Tournament, Georgia has to defeat Tennessee in its tourney opener. In the quarterfinals, Georgia more than likely has to record a win over top-seeded Kentucky, the team it battled closely twice but came up short against. A loss would severely hurt Georgia’s chances. A win, however, and Georgia is squarely on the bubble with probably a 50-50 shot at getting in. A semifinals win would likely secure Georgia’s chances of an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.