Could Savannah State save the Big Dance for Georgia teams?

Could last year's darling be shut out of the 2012 NCAA tournament? (AP photo)

Could last year's darling really be shut out of the 2012 NCAA tournament? Er, yes. (AP photo)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Which upper-tier ACC and SEC teams are in the greatest danger of missing the Big Dance? North Carolina State is tied for fourth in the ACC with Virginia and Miami but has slipped to 60th in ESPN Insider’s Daily RPI and is listed in Joe Lunardi’s latest ESPN Bracketology as the first team out of the NCAA tournament grid. Lunardi has Mississippi State in as a No. 9 seed, but the Bulldogs are 56th in RPI and have lost three in a row. Not helping either case: N.C. State carries a home loss against Georgia Tech, which is 173rd in RPI, and Mississippi State has a home loss against Georgia, which is 115th.

2. Is it possible the highly regarded Colonial Athletic Association — that’s Georgia State’s conference — could wangle only one NCAA bid? Yes. Both Lunardi and Jerry Palm of CBS Sports place only one CAA team in the field, and that constitutes a surprise. Three Colonial reps made it last year, and VCU memorably went from playing in the First Four in Dayton to the Final Four in Houston. The issue, as ever, is RPI. The three teams tied atop the CAA — VCU, Drexel and George Mason — rank 72nd, 73rd and 87th, and none of them, according to ESPN, has a non-conference strength-of-schedule rating under 20o.

3. What team from Georgia stands the best shot of making the field of 68? Given that Mercer is second in the Atlantic Sun — first-place Belmont visits Mercer on Saturday — and given that next week’s Atlantic Sun tournament will be held in Macon, you’d have to count the Bears in with a chance. But don’t sleep on Savannah State, which leads the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and has won 10 in a row. For the record, Savannah State played host to Georgia Tech on Dec. 10 and lost by 20; Mercer beat the Jackets 12 days later at the Gwinnett Arena.

My Super Sweet Sixteen

1. Kentucky: Two more tests for the unbeaten-in-SEC-play Wildcats: At Mississippi State on Tuesday, home against Vanderbilt on Saturday.

2. Syracuse: The Orange stand only three games from finishing their final Big East regular season 17-1, and two of those will be at home.

3. Missouri: Saturday brings the game of the year in the Big 12: Mizzou at Kansas for what figures to be the regular-season league title.

4. Kansas: Remember the disappointing Tyshawn Taylor? Say hello to the reborn Tyshawn Taylor, maybe the nation’s best point guard.

5. Duke: Down 10 points with 2:10 left at North Carolina. Down 20 points with 11 1/2 minutes left against N.C. State. Duke won both, FYI.

6. Michigan State: Now alone atop the Big Ten, and the Spartans’ key remaining game — Ohio State on March 4 — will be staged at home.

7. North Carolina: Three of the Heels’ final regular-season games will be played on the road — at N.C. State, at Virginia, at Duke.

8. Wichita State: Talk about a bust-out game — the Shockers traveled to Davidson on BracketBuster weekend and won by 17 points.

9. Georgetown: Second seed in the massive Big East tournament could well be decided when the Hoyas play Marquette on March 3.

10. New Mexico: The Lobos had the best week of any team this season — won at San Diego State by 10, beat UNLV in the Pit by 20.

11. Ohio State: Wasn’t it just yesterday that some guy was calling the Buckeyes the nation’s best team? Who was that nut? (Why, me.)

12. Marquette: Weird. The Golden Eagles are 11-3 in Big East play but were 1-2 against SEC opposition in their pre-conference schedule.

13. Florida: The get-well Gators responded to an 0-2 week by beating Alabama at home and trouncing Arkansas by 30 on the road.

14. Murray State: The biggest game on the BracketBuster card turned into a Racer runaway — Murray beat Saint Mary’s by 14 points.

15. Florida State: With Duke upcoming Thursday in Tallahassee, this is the prove-it week in the Seminoles’ bid to finish atop the ACC.

16. Louisville: Cardiac Cards followed a close home loss against Syracuse, which is good, with an overtime escape at DePaul, which isn’t.

Dropped out: UNLV, Baylor, Saint Mary’s.

By Mark Bradley

59 comments Add your comment

Tech Engineer

February 21st, 2012
8:07 am

George Mason is ranked 72 and Georgia Tech is ranked 173. WOW!

Uh oh...

February 21st, 2012
8:08 am

What? No Ga State? hahahahaha. I think GStateBen is going to throw a tantrum on your blog.

Todd

February 21st, 2012
8:09 am

Hey Mark, What about Georgia Southern? They are 12-4 in conference and have won 6 in a row. They stand a decent chance as well.

lanier

February 21st, 2012
8:15 am

Mercer Bears will do it

dtanner

February 21st, 2012
8:29 am

nobody said it, so the much coveted FIRST!

Andy

February 21st, 2012
8:40 am

Todd,

As a grad of another Southern Conference school and a close follower of SoCon basketball, I think Davidson is far superior to the rest of the conference this year. GSU could certainly hit their stride at the right time, but I’d be surprised if Davidson doesn’t run through the tourney.

Rickster

February 21st, 2012
8:55 am

Dude… what’s with the big Obama head?

CMill

February 21st, 2012
9:21 am

Mercer also lost to uga by 14, seems relevant to the article

Todd

February 21st, 2012
9:41 am

Andy,I’ll agree that Davidson is the best team in the conference, but quite often th e best team doesn’t win the coference tourney. I’m just saying that GSU is playing well right now and probably has a better shot than the “other” GSU, UGA, or Tech.

SSU Alum

February 21st, 2012
9:54 am

Savannah State will make the Tourney for the 1st time by winning the MEAC in our 1st yr. iCare. Dont throw shade this is a special moment. *Tear*

Peach Fuzz

February 21st, 2012
10:07 am

I didn’t attend Davidson, but I know a lot about universities and colleges across the country. I’ve visited most of the large ones, and many of the best small ones. I did business w/them and also recruited on campus for a large government agency. As for my likes, you can’t beat Davidson, aka “the Princeton of the South”. Now getting in Davidson is another issue. I value the degree. If the choice were between Bama, UGa or Davidson, it would be a no-brainer. If I were a top-notch FB player and it was between Stanford, Bama, and UGa, it would be a no-brainer. If it was too far away for me to go to Standford, I’d opt for UNC, UVa, or Vanderbilt. Why not be around smart kids from whom you would learn by just being around them? Those schools put players in the pros as well.

Hurricane

February 21st, 2012
10:19 am

SSU is looking more and more like a strong possibility. Mercer is still in the mix. It would really be good for college basketball here in GA to see someone other than GA and GT in the big dance.

AlphaWorm

February 21st, 2012
10:34 am

Finally, some SSU love (even though it was backhanded). The Tigers avenged one of only two conference losses last night with a 23 point thumping of Bethune-Cookman. This team played some really tough, top-tier teams early in the season, and they are primed to take the MEAC in their first year of conference play. I love my S-S-U!

Sam Mitchell

February 21st, 2012
10:37 am

Mark, correct me on this but I think Mercer has a win streak going right now, as well.

GTPhenom

February 21st, 2012
10:49 am

I said last week that Michigan State was the team to watch out for, and I only feel more confident about that going ahead. They are playing stellar basketball right now. If I had to guess as to which team from the state would make it, Mercer and Savannah State seem like the potential favorites.

RPI Check

February 21st, 2012
11:07 am

Georgia RPIs:

112 Mercer
116 UGA
127 Ga St
174 GT
193 GSU
197 Savannah State
324 Kennesaw State

George Stein

February 21st, 2012
11:08 am

Mark has Kentucky first! He’s such a homer!

All kidding aside, Brian Gregory is clearly sandbagging everyone. Okay, maybe all kidding isn’t aside.

RaleighJacket

February 21st, 2012
11:11 am

Mark, actually Duke was down 10, not 8, to UNC with 2:10 left in game. And down over 15+ points earlier in the 2nd half.

Mark Bradley

February 21st, 2012
11:12 am

Actually, Mercer has lost two in a row, Sam Mitchell.

Promethius

February 21st, 2012
11:42 am

Mark, how do you rate the J schools (UGa, Bama, Fla, UNC, Tn)?

STATEment

February 21st, 2012
11:48 am

Georgia State

Dawgington

February 21st, 2012
12:04 pm

Nobody cares about your commuter school STATEment.

glsjunior@yahoo.com

February 21st, 2012
12:13 pm

Enter your comments here

Uh oh...

February 21st, 2012
12:13 pm

Uh oh...

February 21st, 2012
12:17 pm

GStateBen:

“Bradley actually had the nerve to say it was Savannah State. Laughable.”

JP

February 21st, 2012
12:21 pm

Hopefully the Panthers can make a run in the CAA tourney. Didn’t know Mercer had a higher RPI than UGA. I would like to see both teams in the big dance but I’m a little biased since I’m an alum of both schools. Good luck to SSU as well. It’s a wrap for UGA and Tech, though.

Taxi Smith

February 21st, 2012
12:42 pm

Must be difficult writing about basketball in a state where hardly anyone pays any attention to it. Anyway, the college regular season has become meaningless with 64 teams going to the NCAA tournament. Who cares who wins “tonight?” Go back to 32 teams (tops; I’d prefer to start with your Sweet 16) and you’ll see more teams taking the regular season seriously.

BullDawgNut

February 21st, 2012
1:41 pm

Its nice to hear the turn around story of SSU. I liked Broadnax as a player in the 80’s, and think he can get SSU into the 68. That’s a big deal for a first year conference Division I school.

Stephen A. Dawg: PROUD ALUM.

February 21st, 2012
1:56 pm

GO SSU, GO ! WE LOVE YOU !!

Stephen A. Dawg: PROUD ALUM. (C/O 89)

February 21st, 2012
2:07 pm

This is a dramatic and sudden phenomenal turnaround for a basketball program that was pronounced to be the worst a few years ago. But the Tigers never gave up and kept working hard to get off the mat. I salute SSU’s Athletic Administration for all their hard work. Now if we can translate the success to the football program that would really be great. GO TIGERS !! HERE’S TO YOU, SSU !!

GTfan

February 21st, 2012
2:37 pm

Still no love for Georgia Southern? Like I said on Schultz’s article, I think they are playing the best ball of any team in the state right now. They got off to a rough start, but have been tearing it up conference play. They will be at least the #2 seed in the SoCon Tourney and still have a shot at getting #1.

t_height

February 21st, 2012
2:44 pm

I LOVE MY TIGERS!! LETS GO SSU!!!!

SupremoDawg

February 21st, 2012
2:49 pm

t_height

February 21st, 2012
2:55 pm

@Uh_Oh: SSU has at least played teams such as Georgetown, Wisconsin, Indiana, Butler, Arkansas and GT. G.State has only played one team from a major conference and that Washington. That game was only played because of the World Vision Classic.

AlphaWorm

February 21st, 2012
2:55 pm

Get out of here with that Southern playing the best ball in the state mess. Since losing to Arkansas, SSU has won 13 of 14 games, and 10 in a row. That is hard to do at any level and in any conference. Like I mentioned in Schultz’s article, the two (2) conference losses where by a combined 8 points…and SSU avenged one of those losses with a 23 point whooping last night. Also, during this streak, SSU is beating their opponents by double digit margins in almost every game. That is just pure domination. Let’s keep it going Tigers!

cb795

February 21st, 2012
2:59 pm

SSU has represented the City of Savannah well this year. the loses came against Georgetown, North Florida, Indiana, Butler, Chattanooga, Norfolk State, Georgia Tech ( their only home loss), Arkansas, Wisconsin and Bethune-Cookman. Not bad for first time around in the MEAC.

G8R GRAD

February 21st, 2012
4:30 pm

G8R GRAD

February 21st, 2012
4:33 pm

Gator Baseball ranked preseason #1!

Skeezix

February 21st, 2012
4:40 pm

Well, to avoid embarrassment, it sure would be nice if a team from the entire state of Georgia made it into the dance. I don’t care if it’s the team from Savannah or Macon—just someone please get in.

G8R GRAD

February 21st, 2012
4:41 pm

(well on our way to another SEC Allsports Trophy – 22 out of the last 24 years!)

BIGDOG

February 21st, 2012
4:58 pm

SSU has come a long way in a short time! The team has no seniors. My school could be even better next year!

GaSoutehrnfan

February 21st, 2012
6:23 pm

Do not forget about the school 45 mins from Savannah..you know the one called Ga Southern. They are second in the SoCon and is hosting number one Davidson on Saturday. The Eagles are on a sixth game winning streak for conference game and are one a 10 game winning streak while playing at home at Hanner Fieldhouse!

SSU-Tiger

February 21st, 2012
6:26 pm

Go SSU Tigers!!!

Stephen A. Dawg: PROUD ALUM. (C/O 89)

February 21st, 2012
6:49 pm

This is another proud moment for the long suffering SSU family & alumni. We haven’t been this proud of our school’s achievement since:1) The Savannah St. Football team upset the University of Central Florida, 2) The Savannah State Baseball team whipped Mighty Florida State University in Tallahassee, and 3) Most recently, my classmate, former SSU Tiger WR, Shannon Sharpe was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past summer.

Great Job SSU Basketball, and good luck to you for in your NCAA Basketball Tournament aspirations and winning the MEAC Championship in your very first year ! YEAH !!

SSU83

February 21st, 2012
8:10 pm

SSU’s current success reminds me of the days when Russell Ellington was the head coach.

I've said all along...

February 22nd, 2012
12:36 am

how bout them Racers!!

boykin

February 22nd, 2012
3:04 am

Steph A: You talkin bout the brother that cant talk or the baller at sc and gbay?

tr

February 22nd, 2012
7:38 am

How about Ga. Southern? If Davidson can slip up in SoCon conf. tourny, Eagles can take it!

BjohnDawg

February 22nd, 2012
9:10 am

It just goes to show, that the state of Georgia basketball at the collegiate level this year is pathetic.
Until Georgia and Tech can consistently keep the top players from Georgia playing on their teams and not going to Kentucky, Duke, etc. or the pros then we can expect all hopes for the NCAA tourney to be a Mercer or a Savannah State or Augusta State( years past) to bail the state out.

At UGA….Fox has shown he can coach….but he has not shown that he can recruit. Sorry but one player( Pope) is not enough. He needs to fence in the state, not sure he is capable of that.We will see. His team is today short on talent, and short on depth. And some of his recruits have not come close to be viable Div I starters…Georgia or otherwise.

JSS

February 22nd, 2012
9:16 am

@ Mark Bradley…
Told you not to trust the Big Ten this year…
Don’t worry, Sav State and Mercer will be fine…