ATHENS — Georgia will compete in postseason play for the third consecutive year. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, it won’t be in the NCAA Tournament.
Georgia (19-13) was passed over for the 68-team field on Sunday. The Bulldogs put some pressure on the selection committee by winning five straight games and making a run to the SEC tournament before bowing out to Kentucky 93-80 in the semifinals.
Georgia is expected to get a bid in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) when that event announces its field later Sunday. The Bulldogs likely would host a Tuesday or Wednesday game at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs last played in the NCAA Tournament as a 10 seed last year in Charlotte. They lost to Michigan State in the first round. An NIT berth will be their 13th and 25th postseason appearance overall.
Georgia coach Mark Fox lobbied hard for the committee to take into consideration his team’s non-conference strength of schedule, which was considered third nationally heading into Sunday’s selection show. Georgia played just one team ranked lower than 200 in the RPI (Robert Morris at 291), while playing five that as of Saturday were in the top 100. Fox even sent ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale a box of cupcakes in an effort to draw attention to that.
But in the end, the Bulldogs simply didn’t win enough of those games. They went 7-4 with the losses coming to No. 50 Chattanooga (when Derek Ogbeide was out), No. 90 Kansas State (with Ogbeide playing just a few minutes in his first game back), and at Baylor (25) and Seton Hall (19). Georgia’s best non-conference win was over Georgia Tech (69).
The SEC got in three teams: Kentucky, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. South Carolina (24-8), which lost to Georgia three times this season, also was not included in the field.
And while not making the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons certainly is disappointing, Georgia has proved to be consistently competitive under Fox. The Bulldogs have now finished with a .500 or better record in SEC play for the fourth straight season, which had never been done program history. Georgia and Kentucky are the only two teams to reach the SEC tournament semifinals the last three years.