At 7-6 in conference play, the Georgia Bulldogs would be in sole possession of second place in the division if only they played in the SEC West. Alas, the Fox Hounds compete in the much more rugged SEC East, where they are part of the three-way snarl for third place with the Kentucky Wildcats and the Tennessee Volunteers.
Here, for the record, are the remaining games on the schedules of the three contenders for the final two spots in the top four of the SEC East behind the Florida Gators (11-2) and the Vanderbilt Commodores (8-5):
- Georgia: South Carolina (5-8), LSU (3-10), at Alabama (11-2)
- Kentucky: Florida (11-2), Vanderbilt (8-5), at Tennessee (7-6)
- Tennessee: Mississippi State (6-7), at South Carolina (5-8), Kentucky (7-6)
Clearly, our best bet is to root hard against the Wildcats. Overall, the Vols have the easiest row to hoe, so we should resign ourselves to the reality that Tennessee will finish third in the division. That leaves Georgia and Kentucky circling warily around the final chair awaiting the moment when the music stops.
The fourth-place finisher in the East will draw one of the two sets of woeful Tigers out of the West in the opening round of the SEC Tournament for a chance to advance to encounter the Crimson Tide in the second round. The fifth-place finisher in the East instead gets the No. 4 team in the West for the opportunity to face Florida. While the Bulldogs have proven that they are nearly the Gators’ equals, Alabama clearly is the weaker division champion, so finishing fourth is preferable.
Besides, since Georgia’s marquee wins are against Kentucky and Tennessee, with the more recent victory over the Volunteers currently having much more luster, we’re better off having the Big Orange continue to do well while John Calipari’s ‘Cats collapse. Brace yourselves, Bulldog Nation: on Saturday afternoon, you need to be ready to root for the Sunshine State Saurians. Trust me, I don’t like it any better than you do, but those are the breaks when these are the stakes.