Live from the SEC: UGA and Bama meet to crunch numbers

Mark Fox: "Hey, our RPI is twice as good!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Georgia coach Mark Fox states his case: "Hey, our RPI is twice as good as theirs!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This isn’t just a huge game — it could well become a test case. If Georgia loses to Alabama and the Bulldogs don’t get an NCAA tournament invitation but the Tide does … well, it would pretty much invalidate the way the NCAA committee has done its business.

Georgia carries an RPI of 39; Alabama’s is 83. (These according to ESPN’s InsiderRPI, the link for which requires registration.) A handy article in the Wall Street Journal — written by Darren Everson, it features a photo of Georgia big man Jeremy Price as illustration — informs us that, over the past 10 years, 84.7 percent of at-large candidates bearing an RPI between 31 and 40 have made the NCAA field.

And how many at-large candidates with an RPI over 80 have gained entrance? Everson’s chart stops at 70, which tells us all we need know.

The argument for Georgia over Alabama is the one Bulldogs coach Mark Fox posed to reporters after Thursday’s victory over Auburn: “We’ve tried to do the things the committee has traditionally asked for.” Meaning: Play a decent non-conference schedule.

Georgia’s strength of schedule is 40; its non-SEC strength of schedule is 98. Alabama’s strength of schedule is 153; its non-league strength of schedule is 295.

But now we come to the case for Alabama: The Tide won the SEC West by three games and finished 12-4 in conference play. Would the committee really ignore a 20-win team that won its division in one of the Big Six leagues because of a bad RPI? Maybe. But would it ignore the same team if it arrived at Selection Sunday having beaten an at-large aspirant with an RPI of 39 twice in seven days?

As of early this morning, the famous Joe Lunardi of ESPN had Georgia as his next-to-last team in — although, somewhat oddly, he also has the Bulldogs as a No. 11 seed. (Usually the last at-large invitees are 12th seeds.) He had Alabama as the 71st team in a 68-team field, or the third-from-last out.

There’s no guarantee Alabama beating Georgia would close a gap of five places. There’s also no assurance both Georgia and Alabama couldn’t make the field. But everything would get much simpler if Georgia just beat Alabama today. I believe the Bulldogs will.

And with that, our dumb little SEC live chat is underway. A crowd is gathering at Ye Olde Dome — although the big draw on the afternoon card is Game 2, which features the Big Blue — but this promises to be one of the most-watched games of the weekend by a group gathered in a hotel suite in Indianapolis. I refer to the NCAA committee.

By Mark Bradley

701 comments Add your comment

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 11th, 2011
9:31 am

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 11th, 2011
9:32 am

HOT DAWG
I am on a roll for me anyway !

joe

March 11th, 2011
9:36 am

Have a feeling loser heads to NIT

Gordon

March 11th, 2011
9:36 am

I’m a Tech fan, and even I say Georgia should get in even if they lose today. They deserve it. Mark Fox has done a fine job.

Mark Bradley

March 11th, 2011
9:36 am

Kudos, SG. You’re having a monster spring.

dandydawg

March 11th, 2011
9:36 am

Please Georgia Win this one!! Show everyone that you are now ready to play with the BIG Boys of College Basketball!!!

Reality Check

March 11th, 2011
9:37 am

Mark it is an interesting case. As a UGA fan I think for the Dawgs to get a bid we have to beat Alabama. If we can’t beat them 1 out of 2 times we don’t deserve a bid. I personally think at 12-4 that Alabama should be in regardless of today. I think I saw where Alabama was 4-2 against the tougher SEC East. Do you know is this is correct?

42-24 Dawgs Still Run This state

March 11th, 2011
9:38 am

Go CMF & Dawgs! Beat the tide!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 11th, 2011
9:39 am

thanks Mark!
my opinion is UGA has to win to get in

bucket

March 11th, 2011
9:40 am

This is a hard situation for UGA in that if they were playing anyone else at the tournament other than Alabama, they would probably be in the NCAA regardless of outcome. However, if they lose to Alabama today that’s 2 loses to the Tide in 6 days and probably dooms their chances for NCAA glory. And perhaps that’s the way it should be.

Gordon

March 11th, 2011
9:41 am

I would suggest that the SEC abandon the divisions for basketball. Do what the ACC does, pick two permanent opponents for each team and rotate the other nine within three groups of home only, away only, and both. If that were the case this year, Alabama would need to win this game and maybe one more to get in, and Georgia would already be in.

jt

March 11th, 2011
9:41 am

Keep our bigs out of foul trouble and find a way to get Dustin some open looks on 3’s and we should be fine. GO DAWGS!!

Mark Bradley

March 11th, 2011
9:41 am

Bama was 4-2 against the East. Lost to Florida and Vandy.

Will

March 11th, 2011
9:41 am

UGA will punch their ticket later this afternoon. Then give UK all they want and maybe upset them Saturday.

DawginLex

March 11th, 2011
9:49 am

I don’t understand how the talking heads have the loser of this game out yet michigan state is in simply because of Izzo’s rep.

I will be stunned if UGA is not in, win or lose. I think this is a must win for Bama to get in. Thye have no quality wins pre-conference and they can’t win on the road at all.

I’m hoping the playing field levels out today on a neutral floor even though it’s in Georgia and talent wins which means Georgia wins.

norman

March 11th, 2011
9:56 am

Bradley- So when can we look for your famous “Bradley Predictions” for “Bradley’s Final Four Fiasco”? I want to make sure I follow your advice, pick the opposite that you expect to win.

5150 UOAD

March 11th, 2011
9:57 am

I sure wish my team was playing today.

But my pops’ alumni will just never be able to compete with the things UGA does.

UGASlobberknocker

March 11th, 2011
9:57 am

IMO, the Dawgs can still get in even if they lose, .as long as it was close and not ugly,, but if so, it will be by the skin of our fangs….a blowout loss would kill us. Bama, on the other hand, MUST win to make it.

Greg

March 11th, 2011
10:00 am

Taking the consensus of 83 bracketologists(79 have UGA in field), UGA would likely be a 10 seed. Bama is one of the first 4 out based on this matrix as well… http://bracketproject.50webs.com/

Bama probably does need this one to get in and I doubt UGA drops all the way out with a loss. That said, what chance does UGA realistically have to even win a game in the NCAA’s if they can’t beat Bama one of two to end the year?

zombiewoof

March 11th, 2011
10:01 am

“I believe the Bulldogs will (win).” Nice analysis there Mark- I feel much smarter now.

Greg

March 11th, 2011
10:02 am

bart

March 11th, 2011
10:03 am

Two losses to Alabama in less than a week would doom the Dawgs. I think this is essentially a play in game to the Big Dance. Loser goes to NIT.

bjohndawg

March 11th, 2011
10:09 am

If they cannot beat Bama in two attempts…they would probably be one and done in the NCAA tourney. I like the improvement this year, but I think this is what hurts them

1) perimeter defense
2) offensively cannot seem to handle trapping defense
3) cannot handle a decent press
4) inconsistent bench play
5) still lack depth
6) given up to many junk plays, especially transitioning from offense to defense on a made basket.

But Fox is a great coach, and I expect stronger showings in the years to come.

Beast from the East

March 11th, 2011
10:10 am

Both should get in. I think the SEC is better this year than people think. Most folks around the country look and see Kentucky somewhat down and they perceive that as the conference being down. We’ll see how the 6th rated big conference fares in the dance.

Tom

March 11th, 2011
10:12 am

Roll TIDE Roll…………………..

Yeah Dawggies

March 11th, 2011
10:14 am

Mark,

What time is the Georgia Tech game today?

What time will Georgia Tech’s first NIT game tip-off??

Thanks.

Beast from the East

March 11th, 2011
10:16 am

Bama does need this one more than UGA. I think UGA’s already earned their spot. Bama’s non-conf schedule/record killed them early, but Anthony Grant has them playing tenaciuos defense lately. It’s a much different team than it was then.

DawginLex

March 11th, 2011
10:16 am

You overlook UK, florida and Vandy in the Big Dance at your own risk.

There are no great teams this year.

Any of those 3 could end up in the Final Four.

UGA could too because they have good guards and a quality player in Thompkins. Stranger runs have happened.

D A DoubleU G

March 11th, 2011
10:18 am

Just need to play close today. We get embarrassingly blown out, things could change.

We play close and competitive or win……. we’re in.

Yeah Dawggies

March 11th, 2011
10:22 am

Oh!?

I am being told there is no shot in he l l that Georgia Tech gets invited to the NIT.

Sorry nerds!!

David Granger

March 11th, 2011
10:30 am

I do believe Georgia has earned a spot in the NCAA tourney, but I don’t believe they’ll get it without beating ‘Bama today. I think this is a play-in game. The winner is in the tournament, and the loser is not.

mcg dawg

March 11th, 2011
10:31 am

Dawgs need to win this one to end the speculation!
A loss puts it to a crap shoot!

Doc Hollidawg

March 11th, 2011
10:35 am

Go Dawgs. Big game. Big. Real big.

DrH

March 11th, 2011
10:37 am

Reading Bradley’s last few columns about UGA’s NCAA tournament chances, I feel as though I must have missed the “RPI” boat somewhere.

RIP I suppose to the days when teams were just simply invited or not?

Now we have to analyze “RPI” between this and that vs. “RPI” of someone else between that and this…geez.

Does ESPN now have a “confusing new acronym creation” staff? How long until the iPhone app is available to decipher whether my “RPI” is better than yours??

McDawg

March 11th, 2011
10:39 am

Colorado stamped their ticket/MSU should not be in –we win we are in

lose i don’t want to think about all the what ifs

Stanky

March 11th, 2011
10:41 am

Tide deserves to get in based on SEC 12-4 and 4-2 vs East.

UGA has improved under Fox – but let’s be Realistic – they have gone from being a bad team to midpack team at best.

I will not get cramped up if UGA does not get into the NCAA tournament if they lose today – they had their chances – and blew it:
– Double Overtime loss to Notre Dame
– Loss to Temple
– Loss to Xavier
– Swept by Vandy
– Swept by Florida
Two best wins were against KY early – and Tennessee at Tennessee.
Other than that – SEC basketball as a whole – just not great.
Good maybe – just not great.

UGA basketball – decent – but far from great.

IF they do get in – probably one and done – and next year the team will not be so good as new wave of players coming in – probably .500 SEC team next year.

Greg

March 11th, 2011
10:43 am

UK, UF and Vandy could be Sweet 16 teams…I imagine at least one of them will be. Don’t see any SEC teams making the Elite 8, much less Final 4.

As for Bama, it’s worth noting that their only decent road win occurred in Knoxville when UT’s Scotty Hopson was out with an injury.

Stanky

March 11th, 2011
10:50 am

Hate to be a downer – but as a whole – the Georgia Athletic Department is just not very good:

Football – declining – 6-7 – UCF emabarrassment
Basketball
– Womans team – once proud program no longer relevent – when was the last time you were excited about an Andy Landers team?
– Mens team – it’s a sad statement when you have a mdiocre year – and that draws excitement.
– Baseball – what the heck happened to Perno’s teams??? They sucked last year – and suck this year.

The only relevent teams seem to womans gymnastics, softball and equestrian.

Even our go to sports – golf and tennis – have taken a step backward.

Our new AD has his work cut out for him.

Go Dawgs

Dawggirl

March 11th, 2011
10:54 am

A win definitely seals the deal…a loss, and the Dawgs are questionable for the NCAA, although I’d like to think our RPI would carry some weight.

LET’S GO DAWGS!! GOTTA BEAT THE TIDE!!

GTBob

March 11th, 2011
11:05 am

I think we can consider todays game a playin game. If UGA loses then it’s NIT time. If they win they are in. No way the committee gives UGA a bid and keeps Alabama out if Bama beats them twice in a week. It could be possible for both to get in though if Bama wins. I’m not sure what the other teams on the bubble need to do. I will leave all of that crazy math to Lunardi.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 11th, 2011
11:10 am

Just beat Bama then there is no questions left. This is the time to step up. Things don’t get easier in the dance.

Go Dawgs!

Bryant

March 11th, 2011
11:30 am

How many 12-4 teams in the conference have not made the big dance? Answer is 0 Same goes for 11-5 So we will be seeing something that has never happened. I hope UGA wears the all black uniforms today so the score can be 31 to 0 at halftime. RTR

GT Dude

March 11th, 2011
11:33 am

Mark, this column should have been about Hewitt and his inability to inspire even one more win…

Luke

March 11th, 2011
11:35 am

I don’t but the whole if UGA keeps it close they’re in. They need to win today. If everyone is talking about crappy Alabama’s schedule is and how they DON’T deserve to be in over UGA, well I see two losses in seven days and it makes me think if I’m a person who makes the bracket, I don’t want a team like that in my tournament who’s just going to get spanked by Syracuse or Texas anyways.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 11th, 2011
11:35 am

Did Mr College Football get fired or something? I saw a the tweet scroll saying he left the AJC but haven’t seen anything else.

Harvey Updyke

March 11th, 2011
11:37 am

Bama sends dawgs to the NIT today ! Feed the trees !

Bawbie

March 11th, 2011
11:38 am

Fire Dave Perno !

gdawginkalamazoo

March 11th, 2011
11:38 am

GT Dude, you guys are in a tough position right now. Good luck with it.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

March 11th, 2011
11:39 am

Mark,

The talking heads are giving UGA zero respect. Doug Gottlieb yesterday spoke of how Notre Dame dominated the Old Spice Tournament, and then 30 seconds later spoke of how UGA did nothing in the tournament. How conviently he forgot that it took DOUBLE overtime for ND to beat UGA in Thompkins first game back from the high ankle injury. Now I give you Gottlieb is a from 1 year player at ND, but these guys need to be much better informed before spewing out misinformation.

Inman Parker

March 11th, 2011
11:44 am

Stanky is right. SEC is average at best this year; it has been pretty pathetic to watch. Florida has consistently been the best team and I think they could be a sweet 16 type team pretty easily (college hoops is down in general this year), but I also think Tennessee is very dangerous. When they play up to potential they are the most talented team in the conference by a long shot. Unfortunately, potential doesn’t count for much. Other than those two, there aren’t any teams that I consider dangerous in the NCAAs.