NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the estimation of this longtime observer of college basketball, and amateur bracketologist, Georgia’s situation as of this moment can be summed up thusly:
Beat Tennessee today and then upset Kentucky on Friday, and more than likely Georgia makes the NCAA tournament.
Beat Tennessee today and have a decent to good showing against Kentucky, but lose, and there’s still a chance of getting a bid, depending on how other bubble teams do over the next few days.
Lose to Tennessee today, and that’s it.
As Thursday begins, here’s where the major national projections have Georgia:
USA Today: Last four out. (Second team out.)
CBSsports.com: Not in last four out.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi: Next four out (Eighth team out, essentially.)
So obviously if you’re an optimistic Georgia fan, in USA Today you trust. But whoever’s right, remember this cardinal rule: Your own team, Georgia in this case, does not operate in a vacuum. They are choosing the best 36 at-large teams, so Georgia is competing against the field.
That’s why, besides Georgia’s own game, these are the other teams and games to watch today (and root against, if you’re Georgia):
Illinois: vs. Michigan, noon
Marquette: vs. Seton Hall, 2:30 p.m.
California: vs. Utah, 5:30
Iowa: vs. Iowa, 6:30 p.m.
Indiana: vs. Iowa, 6:30 p.m. (Indiana probably has a worse resume’ than Iowa, so bubble teams should root for Indiana.)
Xavier: vs. Butler, 7 p.m.
Vanderbilt: vs. Texas A&M, 7 p.m.
Kansas State: vs. Baylor, 9 p.m.
Providence: vs. Creighton, 9:30 p.m.
Southern California: vs. UCLA, 11:30 p.m.
Georgia’s key numbers as of Thursday morning
Record: 17-13 (committee doesn’t count Div. II games.)
Schedule strength rank: 15
Record vs. top 50: 1-8
Record vs. top 100: 7-12
Record vs. outside top 100: 10-1
Road wins: 5 (plus one on a neutral site)
Note: Auburn’s loss to Missouri hurt Georgia because it dropped Auburn out of the top 100, thus taking two top 100 wins off Georgia’s resume’. (Auburn is now 105.) But two more were actually added: Furman and George Washington moved in. So it was a wash, but still would’ve been better if Auburn had won, because now it will have trouble moving back into the top 100. Oakland, the only sub-100 loss for Georgia, is currently 115th. In the end, all these things may not matter, but they could if the bubble is razor thin.