Your Georgia Bulldogs are set to take on the Michigan State Spartans in a couple of hours in a game with big implications for Georgia basketball. Georgia is a solid 6 point underdog to the gang from East Lansing. And nobody shows up in the tournament like Sparty. MSU has advanced past the round of 64 in seven of the last eight seasons, and into the Sweet Sixteen in each of the last three seasons.
But this seventh-seeded Michigan State team isn't one of those teams. Michigan State is led by solid, veteran guard play from junior Denzel Valentine (14.5 ppg) and senior Travis Trice (14.8 ppg). The Spartans also improved down the stretch, winning eight of eleven to finish the year. During that stretch Trice upped his production to 17.6 points and 4.5 assists per game. Forward Branden Dawson also emerged late, averaging an impressive 15.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in the Big Ten tournament. The ability of Georgia's front court to handle Dawson will go a long way to deciding this one.
For me the biggest question, beyond the matchups, is whether the Bulldogs can play like they're excited to be here while also playing like they've been there before. If they can harness the energy of being the underdog while executing like a veteran squad should, Mark Fox may be able to notch a big name win, and the first Bulldog tournament triumph since current players were in elementary school. Until later....