Mark Fox's Bulldogs put up a valiant effort against Kentucky yesterday, but in the end fell short of today's SEC tournament final.
While I believe the Bulldogs probably gave the committee something to think about, it looks unlikely that the Hoop Hounds did enough to secure a slot in the field of 64(ish). As we discussed yesterday, the Red and Black played one of the toughest schedules in the nation this year. The problem is that they just didn't win enough of those games against solid opponents. It is what it is, as the saying goes.
Now Bulldog fans find themselves on Selection Sunday watching the NCAA selection show, and hoping for a miracle. The unveiling of the tournament bracket will happen from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. eastern on CBS. But immediately following the announcement of teams headed to the Big Dance, ESPNU will carry the selection show for the NIT.
Let's talk briefly about what the NIT is, and how a team like Georgia might (or might not) end up there. For starters, the "I" stands for "Invitational". 32 teams are invited from the pool of NCAA Division I schools not picked for the NCAA tournament. But most casual basketball fans don't really know the criteria from there.
The closest thing to an "automatic" NIT bid comes with winning a conference regular season title. As the NIT selection procedures put it:
Any regular-season champion of an NCAA Division I conference (as determined by the conference's tie-break protocol) not otherwise selected to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship will secure an automatic qualification into the NIT. The committee will then select the best available teams to fill the 32-team NIT field.
Obviously some teams who win their conference's regular season title but get knocked out in the conference tournament secure at large tournament berths. Georgia obviously did not win the SEC regular season title, so we're looking for one of those "best available team" slots. The danger for the Bulldogs is that regular season champs of some of the remaining mid-majors to complete their tournaments might get knocked out of their tournament finals. Those teams would then get automatic NIT bids, shrinking the pool of available slots for teams like Georgia (and Florida and Ole Miss among SEC teams).
As tournament action resumes today 18 teams have won their regular season title and been knocked out of their conference tournaments. But as noted some of them (Indiana in the Big Ten, Villanova in the Big East) are a lock for a tourney slot anyway. By my back-of-the -napkin math there are 10-12 of those 18 teams that are almost certain to end up in the NIT. Somewhere between 18-22 at-large spots should ultimately be available. Bracket Matrix currently projects UGA as a 4 seed in the NIT with a tough first round game against Creighton. But because the NIT has the added variable of the NCAA tournament's unpredictability as part of its selection process, knowing how the field will shake out really will have to wait until this evening.