One of the few bright spots for this year's Georgia basketball team was Mike Mercer, who was named to the S.E.C.'s all-freshman team by the league's coaches.
Congratulations go out to the Snellville native, who also came off moderately well in Paul Westerdawg's recent comparison of Dennis Felton's third year to Tubby Smith's second year.
Once you get past Mercer, though, the reasons to feel good about the 2005-2006 Georgia basketball season are few and far between. The Bulldogs will open conference tournament play against Arkansas in Nashville this evening.
I am hard pressed to come up with plausible arguments why the Bulldogs will not also conclude conference tournament play with tonight's opening round matchup against the same Razorback squad that defeated the Hoop Dogs handily in their regular season finale.
Arkansas, the third seed out of the S.E.C. West, posted a 21-8 record that included wins over Florida and Tennessee. None of the Razorbacks' six conference losses were by margins of greater than four points.
Georgia has been bounced in the first round in four of its last six conference tournament appearances. In the last 20 series meetings between the 'Dawgs and the Hogs in basketball, the average margin of victory was more than 11 points and just five contests were decided by five or fewer points.
The facts available to us give little cause for confidence. Arkansas may no longer be the Goliath of S.E.C. hoops, but the Razorbacks might as well be giants as far as this Georgia squad is concerned . . . and Dennis is no David.
I'd love to see the Bulldog hoopsters upset the Philistines, but, realistically, we're looking at the last game of the season, a probable loss that will drop the 'Dawgs to 15-15 and leave Georgia on the outside looking in, even among the N.I.T. pickings.
Feel free to offer your comments below to tell me how wrong you think I am or how right I turn out to be.