ATHENS – For those making plans next week around watching Georgia in the SEC basketball tournament, it’s fairly safe to count on starting Thursday.
Georgia (15-12 overall, 8-8 in the SEC) enters the final week of regular season play in a five-way tie for sixth place. Due to the complicated tiebreakers – which there isn’t enough space to get into without making your head hurt – Georgia would be seeded ninth if the season ended now. Here’s a snapshot off the SEC release:
We know Georgia won’t play on Wednesday. Mathematically, the Bulldogs can’t finish below 10th, and the lone Wednesday game will be between the No. 12 and No. 13 seeds. (Normally there are two games, matching 11-14 and 12-13, but Missouri has ruled itself out this year because of NCAA violations, so the SEC is just going with one game and letting the 11 seed get a bye.)
The chances are miniscule – perhaps nil – that Georgia could somehow climb up into one of the top four seeds, which would mean a double-bye into Friday’s quarterfinals. I did come up with one possible scenario, but that’s also very complicated, and very, very unlikely. If somehow we get later in the week and it’s becoming more plausible then I’ll whip it out.
Basically, it’s very safe to say that for the first time in three years Georgia will not be one of the SEC’s top four seeds and will not get a double bye. Instead it will start on Thursday, with its opening opponent likely to be someone else involved in the current jumble in the middle of the league standings.
The seeding matchups on Thursday:
No. 8 vs. No. 9, 1 p.m. ET
No. 5 vs. Wednesday night winner, 25 minutes later
No. 7 vs. No. 10, 7 p.m.
No. 6 vs. No. 11, 25 minutes later
And after the SEC tournament … ?
The Bulldogs (who rank 80th in the RPI as of Monday) almost certainly would have to win the SEC tournament to get a bid. The caveat is that there might be a scenario where two wins this week and a strong run in Nashville could put them in.
But let’s just say that we will cross that bridge if we get to it after this week’s games.
Meanwhile the NIT is no sure thing either for the Bulldogs. The NIT, which only has 32 slots, has been fairly tough to get in lately, especially with automatic bids going to league champions that don’t win their league tournament or get an NCAA bid. Those often grab up about a dozen or more bids, leaving the at-large NIT bids mostly to teams that were on the NCAA tournament’s radar screen. Which, as of today, the Bulldogs are not.
The guess here is the Bulldogs would need to at least win a game this week as well as one or two in the SEC tournament to get in the NIT. And that right there will be the extent of the bubble analysis for the NIT that you will see until further notice.