For the first time in the 73-year history of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, every game will be televised on four different networks: CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. (It’s believed truTV also will carry a three-part mini-series: “Whatever happened to Paul Hewitt?”)
And once again, Georgia will rank with Hawaii, Alaska and South Dakota among the states least populating the tournament field.
Despite a couple of hiccups, UGA should still get in. According to ESPN’s “bracketologist” Joe Lunardi, the Bulldogs would be an 11th seed in the Southeast Regional if the tournament started today. (He has them facing Missouri in the Tampa sub-regional.)
Obviously, if Georgia loses at South Carolina Saturday, things become a little more desperate. (FYI: I’ll be at the game in Columbia and live blogging, which is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tipoff. So don’t touch that dial!)
But college hoops in the rest of the state remains a vast wasteland, something I’ve never understood given the talent this state produces. Here are seven Georgia programs, ranked in order of current RPI (with current record and strength of schedule ranking in parenthesis). If I’ve missed a college, sorry. Let me know and I’ll add them.
♦ 44. Georgia (16-7, 42): The Dogs already have lost four SEC games and still have remaining road games with Tennessee, Florida and Alabama. Winning at South Carolina is crucial.
♦ 171. Georgia Tech (10-13, 71): What’s left to say? The Jackets are way past “must-win” situations, but falling behind 17-2 at home to Florida State is inexcusable. The only reason the Jackets aren’t being booed more is nobody’s showing up for their games any more.
♦ 218. Georgia State (10-14, 168): Bill Curry got people excited in the Panthers’ first football season. I’m still waiting for Rod Barnes to get people excited and this is his fourth year (and it’s not a start-up program). This season includes a seven-game losing streak.
♦ 260. Savannah State (7-17, 166): The Tigers actually have won four conference championships (SIAC) but none since 1981. In 2004-05, they finished 0-28. This season they started 2-17 but have won five straight. They’re moving up!
♦ 266. Mercer (10-15, 255): Former Bulldog Mark Slonaker coached 11 seasons and went 23-6 in 2002-03, then backslid and was fired three years ago. Bob Hoffman went 33-32 in his first two seasons. They’re a respectable 7-7 in the Atlantic Sun but an upset of Belmont (22-4) in the conference tournament seems unlikely.
♦ 322. Kennesaw State (7-17, 317): As you can see, that early season upset of Georgia Tech wasn’t the launching pad to greatness. In fact, the Owls lost 10 straight after that game and 17 of 22 since.
♦ 340. Georgia Southern (4-22, 230): Former Tech assistant Charlton Young is only in his second season so we’ll cut him some slack. But the Eagles are 0-13 in the Southern Conference, and they’ve lost 15 of their last 16. The only win? It came over Georgia State.
So. Now you’re primed for the home stretch of the college basketball season.
Sorry to depress you.
By Jeff Schultz