Sixty-six-point-six percent of the SEC’s men’s basketball teams will be involved postseason play this year. The Georgia Bulldogs won’t be among them.
That’s no revelation. Nobody was expecting the Dogs to receive some kind of miraculous at-large invitation. They didn’t deserve one. I’m just bringing it up as a point of mathematical illustration.
Four of its SEC brethren is all that Georgia needed to be better than to be involved in some sort of madness this March. Four SEC teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament and four are headed to the NIT in what would have to be considered a relatively down year in the league.
For comparisons sake, four other conferences placed more teams into the NCAA tournament: the Big East (9), Big Ten (6), Big 12 (6) and ACC (5). The Atlantic 10 and Mountain West also received four bids each.
SEC regular-season champion Kentucky (32-2) is the overall top seed in the Big Dance despite its loss to Vanderbilt on Sunday in the SEC tournament championship. The Commodores (24-10), which opened the season as a consensus Top 10 team, earned the fifth seed in the East Region after beating the Wildcats 71-64 Sunday in New Orleans. The victory gave Vandy its first SEC tourney title since 1951 when it also beat Kentucky (it should be noted that UK went on to win the NCAA championship that year). Florida (23-10, 7 seed in West) and Alabama (21-11, 9 seed Midwest) round out the SEC’s dancers.
Four SEC teams were also invited to the NIT, which starts Tuesday. Tennessee (18-14), which was the No. 2 seed SEC tourney but knocked out by Ole Miss, earned the top seed in its bracket and will play Savannah State Tuesday in Knoxville. The Rebels (20-13), Mississippi State (21-11) and LSU (18-14) round out the SEC’s representation in the NIT.
My point? Actually, there are two.
One, Georgia (15-17) really wasn’t very far off from reaching postseason play this season. And, two, it’s really not this incredibly stupendous accomplishment to get there. Some postseason somewhere should be the minimal expectation for any program that gives a hoot about basketball (and UGA emphatically claims that it does).
Yes, the Bulldogs were an incredibly young assemblage as a result of a couple of unexpected departures (though Kentucky was younger). They started two freshmen and two sophomores in the SEC tournament quarterfinals will return 10 players overall next season.
But a closer look back through the season demonstrates how very close Georgia was to being in postion to still be playing right now:
Say the Bulldogs win just half of those games, they’re sitting there with 18 wins against the nation’s No. 15 strength of schedule when the selection committees started comparing notes on Sunday. It says here they would’ve been hard to pass up by the NIT.
I know: Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. It’s a game many teams can play and reach a similar conclusion. As always, these things tend to equal out over the long haul.
Mississippi State is certainly bemoaning its two losses to UGA, which effectively knocked it out of the Big Dance. And Georgia’s wins over Notre Dame, Tennessee and Florida look as good in retrospect as some of those losses look ugly. As coaches always say, in the end, you are what your record says you are.
But as bad of a season as it was, Georgia certainly was not far off from being a postseason participant. And its fans should expect nothing less than the Bulldogs always being one.
LAST CALL FOR HOOPS:
– Chip Towers, The UGA Blog