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Latest on Georgia’s tourney hopes: Bulldogs still hold out hope, although NIT most likely

J.J. Frazier and the Bulldogs will hope they are included in the NCAA Tournament. If not, Georgia will surely be seeded highly in the NIT.
J.J. Frazier and the Bulldogs will hope they are included in the NCAA Tournament. If not, Georgia will surely be seeded highly in the NIT. Georgia Sports Communications

If Georgia earns a bid to the NCAA Tournament it won’t be considered a miracle.

More than likely, it would have already received one, with the selection committee placing it in the field regardless of the outcome of Friday’s game against Kentucky, which the Bulldogs lost 71-60.

That stated, it is very tough to assume that would be the case. Most analysts tend to be on the same page that Georgia needed to defeat Kentucky to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive. While a lot of computer metrics favor the Bulldogs against other bubble teams, the fact that Georgia lost 14 games and only picked up one upper-tier win could be what ultimately keeps it out of the field.

The lack of top wins proved to be the deciding factor a year ago. Two years ago, however, Georgia recorded zero top-50 wins and still earned admission into the tournament. Every year is different and the selection committee has shown a tendency to include a team or two off of everyone’s radar.

Could Georgia be this year’s team? Perhaps. It may not be likely but there is enough of a reason to at least watch Sunday’s selection show to see how the committee shakes everything out.

Key rankings

RPI: 52

KPI: 48

ESPN BPI: 68

KenPom: 57

Sagarin: 53

Key numbers

Team record: 19-14 overall, 9-9 SEC

Non-conference strength of schedule: 21

Overall strength of schedule: 17

Record vs. RPI 1-50: 1-9

Record vs. RPI 51-100: 6-4

Record vs. RPI 101-200: 9-1

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

Bracketology

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi: Following Georgia’s win over Tennessee, Lunardi moved Georgia up to his "Next Four Out" category’s top spot – meaning the Bulldogs were the fifth team out of the NCAA Tournament. Georgia’s loss to Kentucky was too much for Lunardi, who then moved the Bulldogs out of the field of 68. Lunardi has SEC teams Kentucky (No. 2 seed), Florida (No. 5 seed), South Carolina (No. 7 seed), Arkansas (No. 9 seed) and Vanderbilt (No. 10 seed) in the tourney.

CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm: Even with the Kentucky loss, Palm has Georgia on the cusp of getting in. The Bulldogs are the third team in Palm’s "First Four Out" category behind California and Illinois State. Rhode Island is Palm’s last team in. Palm has Kentucky (No. 2 seed), Florida (No. 5 seed), South Carolina (No. 9 seed), Arkansas (No. 9 seed) and Vanderbilt (play-in No. 12 seed) as his SEC teams in the field.

USA Today/BracketWAG.com’s Shelby Mast: Mast told The Telegraph after Friday’s loss to Kentucky that Georgia was likely NIT bound. Still, Mast has Georgia has his second team out of the field of 68 behind Rhode Island. His last four teams include Providence, USC, Illinois and Kansas State. Mast’s SEC teams in the field are also Kentucky (No. 2 seed), Florida (No. 4 seed), Arkansas (No. 8 seed), Vanderbilt (No. 8 seed) and South Carolina (No. 9 seed).

Current state of affairs

Last 10 games: 6-4

Wins that help: Entering Saturday, Vanderbilt is now the RPI No. 33 team in the nation after a third win over Florida. While the Bulldogs only have one top-50 RPI win, that victory is suddenly working in Georgia’s favor in a major way. Most of Georgia’s other solid wins have fallen back a bit over the final stretch of the season. The next three best wins were over UNC-Asheville (No. 74), Mississippi (No. 75) and Alabama (No. 79).

Losses that hurt: As mentioned before, the Oakland loss hurts. While Texas A&M managed not to fall out of the top-100, that loss still stings because it would have given Georgia a 10-8 SEC record and the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament. That would have set up a rematch with Arkansas instead of Kentucky in the quarterfinals. With Yante Maten back and Georgia rebounding the basketball much better, perhaps that would have been a more favorable matchup.

A look around the SEC: Kentucky (No. 5) and Florida (No. 10) are the standard-bearers are of the conference this season. Arkansas has suddenly become the conference’s third-best team at No. 29. Vanderbilt has surged mightily as the RPI No. 33 team. South Carolina has slid considerably to No. 44. Georgia is sitting at No. 53 hoping for an outside shot at getting into the NCAA Tournament.

Selection Sunday

What exactly to expect: The SEC is an improved conference. The metrics back up the eye test, although a perception does still exist about it being a not-so-great conference. Will the selection committee see it that way? Maybe, maybe not. Every committee is different. Given that Palm and Mast still think highly enough of Georgia to be that close to getting in gives the team and the fan base a reason to watch the selection show on Sunday. Now, will Georgia get in? Conventional wisdom would probably say no. The NIT is the most likely destination. That stated, it shouldn’t be too much of a shock for those who follow Georgia basketball if it receives an invite to a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio. It’s certainly possible. The odds, however, are against it.

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