There’s one game left in the regular season for Georgia, which has rejuvenated itself with three straight wins, and five wins in the past six games. Here’s where things stand:
SEC TOURNAMENT SEEDING
Georgia will play next Thursday and be seeded anywhere from sixth to ninth, depending on Saturday’s games.
Alabama appears to have the tiebreakers over everybody and thus has the fifth seed. So the highest Georgia can finish is sixth, but it can fall no further than ninth. Georgia has the tiebreakers over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, but would lose the tiebreaker to Texas A&M.
Here’s who each team plays Saturday:
Georgia: at Arkansas, 2 p.m.
Ole Miss: vs. South Carolina, 8:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt: vs. Florida, 2 p.m.
Texas A&M: vs. Kentucky, noon.
Basically, if Georgia upsets Arkansas, then it will get the sixth seed. But even if it doesn’t, it could be seeded sixth if the other teams all lose, which is conceivable. For each of those teams that win, Georgia would fall a spot. Hence, if all three win and Georgia loses, it falls to ninth.
The ideal scenario here for Georgia is the sixth or seventh seed, because that would mean avoiding Kentucky in the quarterfinals. (Assuming Georgia wins its first-round game, which is not to be assumed, but we will for these purposes.) Yes, Georgia has nearly beaten Kentucky twice, but the game in Nashville would essentially be a home game for the Wildcats. A neutral site game against Florida, South Carolina or Arkansas would be more neutral.
But given how well Florida is playing – and that it will be seeded second – the best scenario for Georgia is the sixth seed, which would mean either South Carolina or Arkansas in the quarterfinals.
Georgia at this point is barely out of the 68-team field, if you believe the projections. The Bulldogs rank 51st in the RPI as of Thursday morning, and have perhaps the most straight-line resume’ of anybody in the tournament: Barely one top 50 win (over Vanderbilt, currently 49th), and barely one loss to a sub-top 100 team (Oakland, which is 104th.)
Most years, Georgia would have a lot of work left to do, but the bubble is very weak this year. That could change based on tournament week. Remember that: They give out 36 at-large bids, period, not 35 if enough teams aren’t deserving, and not 37 if a bunch of teams finish strong. Just thirty-six, so Georgia is competing against the field, not just Arkansas and the team(s) it plays next week.
Having said all that …
The best guess is Georgia’s magic number is two. A win at Arkansas (29th in the RPI) coupled with a first-round win next week, and a lot would have to happen for Georgia not to make the field. But a loss at Arkansas, while it wouldn’t be a bad loss, would mean having to win two games next week – including over one of the SEC’s top four teams on Friday – in order to have a measure of confidence on selection Sunday.
Jordan Harris returned from his mysterious bone chip injury last night, and had a big 3-pointer as Georgia rallied. Afterwards, Mark Fox said they’ll just see how the freshman does, but that surgery might be an option after the season.
As for Yante Maten, no firm recent updates, and the situation will loom over everything: Georgia’s ability to win over the next week, and how that’s taken into consideration by the selection committee. The Bulldogs are helping themselves immensely by winning without him, but if it doesn’t look like he’ll return, it’s hard to see the committee not counting that against them.
For that reason, you’d wonder if Fox will try hard to get Maten out there at some point, even if for just a few minutes, to show that he’d be available if they made the NCAA tournament.
But Fox has also said they won’t jeopardize Maten’s health or his future. Plus, there’s hope within the program that other factors – schedule strength (20th nationally), road wins (five plus neutral site over George Washington, and mitigating factors (the Texas A&M clock fiasco) will make the committee take a very hard look at Georgia, even if it only wins one more game.