With last night's thrilling victory over South Carolina the Georgia Bulldogs moved to 19-12 on the season and won their twelfth game against an SEC opponent on the year. They also moved up to #60 in the RPI rankings, passing South Carolina after their third victory of the season over the Palmetto State Poultry.
Still, it might not be enough either to get Georgia into the March Madness field or to keep South Carolinas out. Joe Lunardi has moved the Bulldogs into his "next 4 out" of the field, essentially teams 5-8 on the outside looking in. The simplest route for Georgia to get to the Big Dance is to beat Kentucky and then win the SEC Tournament final against the winner of Texas A&M/LSU. Obviously that's easier said than done.
Beating the Wildcats, however, might be enough to slide the Bulldogs into the conversation on Selection Sunday. The best argument in favor of Georgia in that scenario would be that the 'Dawgs played a tough schedule, the 27th toughest in the country, to be exact. Mark Fox's squad played only one opponent outside the RPI top 200 (Robert Morris, whom the Bulldogs beat 79-67), something not a lot of teams can say.
The problem is that the Classic City Canines don't have much to show for that effort, especially outside the SEC. Georgia's top win outside the conference was the early season victory over RPI #65 Georgia Tech. The 'Dagws posted a 6-12 record against RPI top 100 teams, losing to teams like Baylor and Seton Hall in the type of early season contests that matter late in the year. Wins against Alabama and Ole Miss late in the season lost some luster when those teams went out of the SEC tournament early.
Still, the committee has been known to consider how teams finish, and Georgia is among the hottest teams on the tournament bubble, winners of five in a row. A victory over Kentucky, a presumptive #5 seed at worst, could give the 'Dawgs the right kind of win at the right time to make the committee think long and hard.
If Georgia does win this afternoon, the Red and Black will face the winner of the Texas A&M/LSU game which tips off at 1:00 p.m. While the 'Dawgs stand a better chance of beating the Bayou Bengals (to whom they lost a close, controversial January 26th contest), a strong showing against the Aggies (who handed Georgia their worst loss of the Fox era earlier this season) would be the better loss (a win against the Ags would also obviously put the 'Dawgs in the tourney field).
If Georgia can't pull the upset today, the next order of business will be avoiding a bad loss, a loss like the 82-48 drubbing the Wildcats put on Georgia in Rupp Arena on February 9th. That type of loss might not only drive Georgia off the tournament bubble but make it easier to shunt them from the NIT field in favor of a team with a strong regular season resume that gets knocked out of the weekend's conference tournament action.