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What Georgia football can learn from Virginia basketball
For the past several years, Virginia basketball had become known for two things. Dominating the regular season and coming up small when it matters most.
Season, after season, the Cavaliers lost in the NCAA tournament as a higher seed. It all culminated in 2018, when Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed.
Over the past several seasons, Georgia football has shared similar heartbreak. It came about as close as you can to winning a national title in 2017. Factor in the painfully close loses in ’12 and again ’18 to Alabama, and it’s easy to see the similarities between the two.
Of course, Virginia got over the hump on Monday night, as it beat Texas Tech 85-77 to win the program’s first ever basketball national championship.
All year, Virginia had to hear about how it lost to a 16-seed. About how its defensive-oriented style of play wasn’t good enough to win a national title. How an offense that could be classified as slow and game-managing wasn’t couldn’t win in the NCAA tournament.
These are things Virginia has heard all year. It’s also similar to what the Georgia football team has had deal with in recent years as well.
But Tony Bennett and Virginia didn’t flinch. The Cavaliers still played at the same slow-pace on offense this year — the slowest in the entire country. It also happened to have the second-most efficient offense in the country this year. The defense was still great, as Virginia once again ranked in the top-5 in defensive efficiency.
It also helps that Virginia was led by two upperclassmen guards in Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome, along with a potential top-5 pick in De’Andre Hunter. The trio combined for 67 points, with Hunter hitting the shot that sent the title game to overtime.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 9, 2019
Sometimes you need bounces, calls and plays to go your way. The Cavaliers had that in spades in the NCAA tournament. In each of its final three games, Virginia trailed in the final 15 seconds of the game. And somehow, Virginia won all three of those games. The Cavaliers beat Purdue and Texas Tech in overtime, and ending the Auburn game in regulation.
Virginia never abandoned who it was and that paid off on Monday night. Georgia football should continue to do the same.
As much as fans want to see the Georgia offense air it out, or become a team that blitzes all the time, Georgia shouldn’t drastically change what it is at its core. Running the ball and a conservative defense have gotten the team to within grasping distance of winning a national title.
Some call doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results, insanity. When Virginia fell down by double digits in the opening game of the tournament against 16-seed Gardner Webb, it looked like the Cavaliers were doomed again. But Virginia stayed with what it does best, and came away with a double-digit win.
Doing the same thing over and over again, persistence as some call it, led Virginia to a title. If Georgia continues to build on what it already has done under Kirby Smart, it’s going to find itself in a similar position. It just needs a few bounces, or correct onside calls, to go its way.
Virginia was the best team in college basketball this season, and on Monday it was crowned champion for its efforts. If Georgia continues to be Georgia, it to can become a champion in college football.
Also, shout out to my cousin Brian, who was in Minneapolis to watch his alma mater win the national title. I hope every fan gets to one day experience what he got to last night.
Joe Lunardi pumps breaks on Georgia basketball
Focusing on the Georgia basketball team, next season promises to be a better one for the Bulldogs. Georgia is set to bring in one of the nation’s No. 7 recruiting class in the country. The group — which has four top-100 players — is headlined by Anthony Edwards, the nation’s No. 2 overall player.
Georgia is set to bring back key contributors in Jordan Harris, Tyree Crump and Rayshaun Hammonds. Factor in Nicolas Claxton, who has not yet announced his NBA draft intentions, and Georgia could have a very strong team.
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) April 8, 2019
But pump the breaks for now on an NCAA tournament team, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
The ESPN bracket expert did not have Georgia in his field of 68 for the 2019-20 season, nor were the Bulldogs among the first four out of the tournament.
Lunardi pegs six SEC teams to make the NCAA tournament next year, with Auburn and Kentucky both being listed as No. 2 seeds. Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss and Mississippi State where the other four teams.
Georgia will have a chance to pick some key non-conference wins as it takes place in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The likes of Kansas, Michigan State and UCLA will all be playing in the tournament.
It will be Tom Crean’s second season at the helm in Georgia. If Edwards, who projects as a possible No. 1 overall pick, lives up to the hype, Georgia basketball could surprise some people.
Best Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Georgia football podcast: UGA a hot topic with 5-star recruits on Twitter
- Azeez Ojulari continues to standout in loaded outside linebacker group
- A few 5-star UGA recruiting targets and that ‘who wit it’ on Twitter
- 4-star OL target Akinola Ogunbiyi enjoyed his ‘Escape’ acapella duet with Sam Pittman
- The Bulldogs can use more Halloween costume guys like Len’Neth Whitehead
- WATCH: Georgia receivers provide highlights in scrimmage, drill videos
- How Kirby Smart, UGA can use Nick Saban’s latest ‘rant’ to its advantage
Dawgs on Twitter
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 9, 2019
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) April 8, 2019
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) April 8, 2019
— Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) April 8, 2019
Good Dawg of the Day
LIVE LOOK AT MOSES pic.twitter.com/ETHroG1szq
— Mark Titus (@clubtrillion) April 9, 2019