ATHENS — Michigan native Yante Maten was walking around in shorts and a tank top on Friday, and while that was just inside before practice, one got the notion that he wouldn’t have been afraid to step outside like that, even in what at that point was a very cold rain.
“Everybody’s talking about how they’re going to stock up. Stock up over what?” Maten said, scoffing at the notion of a small snowstorm. “It’s not a big deal at all.”
Yes, 1-4 inches of snow, or whatever it ends up being, may not be a big deal. But it could have a severe impact on the turnout at Georgia’s game on Saturday — and, worries the Bulldogs head coach, the result.
Georgia (9-5, 1-1 in the SEC) would normally be a heavy favorite over Missouri (5-8, 0-1), which will be the lowest-ranked RPI team (263 as of Friday) that Georgia has played all year, with the exception of Division II Morehouse.
But Mark Fox has been on the other side of such a weather-impaired game: Arkansas experienced bad weather for a home game a few years ago, and with a modest crowd, Georgia pulled off the win.
“Their team didn’t play great that day, largely because the atmosphere was so different than they expected,” Fox said.
The game, set to tip off at 1 p.m. ET, is on as scheduled, UGA announced Friday afternoon. The main holdup would have been if Missouri couldn’t get there. According to Fox, Missouri intended to fly to the east side of Athens — Fox wasn’t sure if it was Augusta or Columbia, S.C. — but it would avoid the storm and Atlanta traffic.
As for the home fans, Fox was being realistic.
“I anticipate that we’ll have very few people come from Atlanta to the game,” Fox said. “So that being said, our hope is that everyone in Athens and our student body will show up. We’re going to need whoever can make it to make it. One of the things that’s hard is when the atmosphere is totally different because of weather that can affect the home team.”
It’s a game that Georgia clearly cannot afford to lose. While it experienced another setback in Wednesday’s loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs still have the basis of an NCAA tournament resume’ (RPI rank of 45, even better schedule strength, three wins away from home), but they’ll need to string together some more quality wins.
Missouri obviously wouldn’t qualify. But it would be a bad loss, and send Georgia’s computer rankings and its overall hopes into a tailspin.
“For the past couple years, we have always put ourselves in a predicament,” Maten said. “Where are we going to be? It was always a question. We’re trying to establish where we are going to be earlier in the season. Make sure we get the wins.
“So right now we’re just focusing on the next win, trying the hardest to make sure we get that, so we’re not having our backs against the wall, trying to fight to get in.”