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Why Georgia might have a better chance to make March Madness than you think

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Georgia hoops plays Arkansas on Saturday in the biggest game of the season. Keeping it close could matter.

Cutting it close

There’s only one game and a conference tournament left for Georgia and its postseason fate. Since the Bulldogs started their current hot streak that made March Madness a possibility, there has been story after story about the pros and cons of Georgia’s resume in regard to its NCAA Tournament chances. We know UGA’s RPI, strength of schedule, record vs. top teams and all that. But something I read recently made me think those things may not matter as much as other metrics used by the selection committee. Or, at least, they don’t matter as much as they once did.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Neil Paine reported that the selection committee is looking to begin moving away from RPI — a ranking that has been antiquated for years — and replace it with something a bit more modern. Specifically, Paine looked into the advent of scoring margin, especially scoring margin on the road, as a measurement of a team’s skill and predictor of its future success, as well as the question of whether “best” teams or “most deserving” teams should get in.

Everyone I talked to agreed that one of the most important (and easiest) reforms would be to find a better method of balancing the quality of a team’s home and away records. The committee’s current system emphasizes a team’s record, but makes no distinction between a close loss on the road and a close win at home. (The former could be more suggestive of a good team.) As of now, a home win against a top-25 team is considered better than a road win versus a top-50 team, though both of those wins could be equally difficult. …

The selection committee is only starting to wrap its head around the subtle distinction between the two categories. Due to luck, underperformance and other circumstantial factors, it’s very possible for the most talented team in the country to not have the most impressive record in the country. Since things like point differential are more predictive measures, they give us a better read on a team’s underlying talent (the “best” team), while a metric like strength of record is more retrospective (the “most deserving” team). Because there will always be incongruities between the two types of rankings, a good ranking system will explicitly decide beforehand whether it’s measuring talent for the future or rewarding accomplishment in the past — or, if it’s somewhere in between, what the intended mix is.

If scoring margin in losses is a metric that the selectors are looking at, that’s a check in the plus column for Georgia. The Dawgs have losses of less than five points to both Florida and Kentucky, as well as staying within 9 points of the Wildcats on the road. There’s also the matter of the bewildering one-point loss to Texas A&M. Georgia is not an especially accomplished or deserving team, but it is a pretty good team, as shown by its 5-1 record over the last six games and by players like J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten.

Even if metrics like scoring aren’t added to the formula and implemented this season, it’s obvious these factors are on the minds of at least some selection committee members. Which can only be a good thing for Georgia.

Here comes the money

Seth Emerson did some excellent reporting with this piece that revealed Georgia has $77 million dollars in reserve, $32 million of which was previously unreported. AD Greg McGarity gave Emerson many reasons for keeping so much cash in reserve, but this bit about paying players in the future is what caught my eye.

“There are a lot of assumptions that people are making, that this revenue stream is going to be there forever,” McGarity said. “If we end up having to pay student-athletes down the road, where is that money going to come from? … There are a lot of unknowns, and what this allows us to do, and the right way, is to have a buffer there that allows us to cover the unexpected.”

It’s a good point by McGarity, and one not thought of often. Amateurism is not a sustainable model for college football. Eventually, there will be a shift, and there will be a flood of many that must (and should) go from the institutions to the players. It’s smart to have some money at the ready should the NCAA allow more stipends or another form of payment, the Power 5 breaks off and allows paying players or some sort of class action lawsuit comes down forcing universities all over the country to pay current and former players.

As someone who is a fan of football people receiving money for doing work, I hope that cash gets doled out sooner rather than later.

South Bend After Dark

Georgia’s Week 2 game with Notre Dame is officially a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The Irish typically only play one game a season under the lights after not playing a night game in South Bend between 1990 and 2011. Since then, they’ve played seven, going 4-3, including two losses last season.

Lady Dogs top Auburn in first round of SEC Tournament

Now, things get real. At noon Friday, Georgia plays South Carolina, the No. 5 team in the country and top team in the SEC. It’ll be difficult to beat South Carolina, no doubt, but the Lady Dogs have a shot. UGA lost to South Carolina twice this season, once by 3 and once by 18, so anything could happen. Tune in to the SEC Network to see if it does.

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ICYMI

Good dog

Excited birthday dog is excited.