ATHENS — On the court, it was a bad afternoon for the Georgia basketball team, whose Yante Maten-less run finally ran out of steam in the second half at Arkansas.
Elsewhere, the picture wasn’t as bad, as other NCAA Tournament bubble teams struggled — except the team with the most direct impact on Georgia.
Vanderbilt’s upset of Florida gave the Commodores another big lift in their efforts at an NCAA bid. It also pushed Georgia’s seed down in the SEC Tournament a notch, potentially making its path tougher.
The Bulldogs (18-13 overall, 9-9 in the SEC) are seeded eighth after Ole Miss upset South Carolina on Saturday night. That means the Bulldogs will play ninth-seeded Tennessee on Thursday (1 p.m. ET, SEC Network).
This scenario means a potential quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 seed Kentucky, which will have what amounts to a home-court advantage in Nashville, thanks to its fan base. Georgia was swept by Kentucky in the regular season, but played it close in both games.
So how many games will Georgia need to win to have an NCAA bid? That’s impossible to say in an absolute sense, as it depends on how the rest of the field performs. There were some good results for Georgia on Saturday afternoon among other bubble teams: Illinois suffered a bad loss at Rutgers. Ohio State lost to Indiana. California lost at Colorado.
Other bubble teams remained in action Saturday and Sunday, and it should remain a fluid situation for Georgia entering the SEC Tournament. At minimum, a win Thursday appears needed to keep chances alive. At least two wins, including a tough Friday matchup, may be needed.
“I think our team has, you know, played a top 20 schedule in America,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said after Saturday’s game. “We’ve got probably, I don’t (know), eight or nine wins versus the top 100. Of our losses, I think we have five losses against the top 10. … We certainly feel like when we’re whole, when Maten comes back, we’re as good as anybody. We’ll go home and regroup and try to get ready for Nashville.”
Adding to the intrigue is the status of Maten, the star forward who has missed the past four games with a sprained knee. He made the trip to Arkansas, though didn’t suit up.
“He will continue to rehab, see a doctor next week and see where he’s at,” Fox said after Saturday’s game. “I have no more information than that.”
SEC Country staff writer Eric Bolin reported on this from Fayetteville, Ark.