I’m heading out to Athens in the morning to chat with Georgia coach Mark Fox, who might be the most impressive 8-8 coach in the nation right now. But then I’ve generally been less jaded than most — I know, hard to believe — about the potential of Georgia basketball.
Yes, I believe Fox can turn the Bulldogs into a consistently winning program. Florida and Tennessee obliterate all of the it-can’t-be-done-here arguments in the SEC.
But it you think I’m crazy for even pondering the concept of a successful Georgia basketball program, here’s something even more out there: Georgia Tech has a good chance to win the ACC championship this year.
OK. Now call me crazy.
Seriously, we’ve all seen the upside and downside of the Jackets this season. Sometimes we’ve seen it during consecutive possessions. But after three conference wins in the last four games over Duke, North Carolina and Clemson, it certainly appears this young team is starting to put things together.
Derrick Favors is getting more comfortable up front. Guard Iman Shumpert is finding a rhythm after missing six games with a knee injury. Gani Lawal – great. Offensively, things can still be erratic. But defensively, the Jackets have been strong and are gaining some mental and physical toughness — the kind of toughness that has been missing the past few years.
But the whole ACC championship thing didn’t hit me until Wednesday night. I was sitting in a sports bar with some friends, watching basketball games and losing spectacularly at trivia. (Greenland is in the kingdom of Denmark, by the way.) North Carolina was getting waxed at home by Wake Forest. Duke was struggling with North Carolina State (and eventually lost).
Easy mid-January analysis: No team in the ACC is great. But the Jackets, simply because of their talent level and depth, probably have a higher ceiling than anybody.
We’ll know more after the next two games against Florida State and Wake Forest. But I sense these Jackets are going to be challenging for the conference title in March.
Here’s the up-to-date standings, including rankings at the start of the week.
|Atlantic Coast Conference|
|Georgia Tech (19)||3-2||14-4|
|North Carolina State||2-3||13-6|
|North Carolina (24)||1-3||12-7|