As noted by MaconDawg, we are closing in on the end of the college basketball regular season, and the Georgia Bulldogs remain squarely on the bubble for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. How well or how poorly the Fox Hounds fare in the SEC Tournament will go a long way toward determining whether the Red and Black receive an invitation to the Big Dance, so the time has come to begin looking at conference tourney seeding.
The first- and second-place finishers in both divisions receive first-round byes. The third-place finisher in each division faces the sixth-place finisher in the opposite division in the first round, while the fourth-place squad from one side squares off with the fifth-place team from the other. Currently, the Florida Gators sit atop the SEC East with a 9-2 league ledger that virtually assures the Sunshine State Saurians of the division crown. At 6-4 in conference play, Georgia is tied for second place with the Vanderbilt Commodores, one game ahead of the fourth-place Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers (both 5-5). Bringing up the rear are the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-6).
If the Bulldogs finish the regular season as the Eastern Division runner-up, they will get a free pass to the second round, where they will face the winner of the opening outing pitting the third-place finisher in the West against the last-place finisher in the East. Currently, that matchup would be between the Arkansas Razorbacks (5-6) and the Palmetto State Poultry, both of whom Georgia has beaten on the road already this season. This, obviously, is the scenario we want.
We should bear this in mind when looking at this week’s SEC basketball schedule. It goes without saying that, in every circumstance and under all conditions, we want the Red and Black to win. How, though, should Bulldog Nation root in the following contests?
Tuesday, February 15: Mississippi St. Bulldogs at Kentucky Wildcats: At this point in the season, we largely are indifferent to any contest involving an SEC West team, unless that squad is taking on an SEC East club. In such an instance, it is preferable for the Western Division team to win and knock our Eastern Division opponent down a peg. Fans of our Bulldogs should root for their Bulldogs tomorrow night.
Wednesday, February 16: South Carolina Gamecocks at Tennessee Volunteers: The Vols hold a one-game lead on the ‘Cocks, and Georgia’s remaining games include a date with Tennessee in Knoxville and a clash with South Carolina in Athens. It is better for the Bulldogs if the Big Chickens beat the Big Orange on Wednesday.
Saturday, February 19: Vanderbilt Commodores at Auburn Tigers: It truly, deeply pains me to have to type this, but desperate times call for desperate measures, so here goes: Georgia fans should root for the Plainsmen. I hate Auburn.
Saturday, February 19: South Carolina Gamecocks at Kentucky Wildcats: Kentucky currently is 5-5 and South Carolina currently is 4-6, so, regardless of the two teams’ weeknight results, the Gamecocks and the Wildcats will be no worse than tied in conference play by Saturday. Since Georgia still has a home date remaining with the Palmetto State Poultry, the Red and Black are better off pulling for South Carolina, especially if the ‘Cats win on Tuesday and/or the ‘Cocks lose on Wednesday.
Sunday, February 20: Florida Gators at LSU Tigers: Fortunately, the Bulldogs’ seeding interests here match up exactly with Georgia fans’ natural inclinations. You are free to root against the Gators both with specific intent and on general principle. Geaux Tigers!
That should provide you with a pretty solid thumbnail sketch of where your rooting interests lie this week. (I would add as a caveat, however, that I am new to this whole "paying attention to basketball" thing, so it is entirely possible that I have overlooked a nuance or gotten a basic fact wrong. If that is the case, please feel free to correct me in the comments below.) Now that we have dealt with every other team in the division, we will turn next to previewing the Music City Mariners.