Not to rain on the considerable feel-good vibes surrounding the Georgia men‚Äôs basketball program, but the Bulldogs‚Äô NCAA tournament hopes still rest on winning the Southeastern Conference tournament in Atlanta this week.
At least that‚Äôs how Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com‚Äôs NCAA bracket expert, sees it.
‚ÄúThey need to win,‚Äù Palm said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre not an at-large. They‚Äôve got way too many bad losses. There‚Äôs nothing for them as an at-large.‚Äù
Palm thinks Georgia, which tied Kentucky for second place in the SEC with a 12-6 record and is the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament, probably already has done enough to go to the NIT. Even that would have been considered a reach when Georgia was 6-6 entering SEC play.
The NCAA? Even if Georgia were to beat Kentucky, a preseason No. 1 in the nation, in the semifinals after knocking off Ole Miss on Friday, that wouldn‚Äôt be enough, Palm believes. He thinks it would take winning the tournament to get the NCAA automatic bid. That is likely to mean playing top-ranked Florida Sunday.
Georgia‚Äôs RPI is 70 today by ESPN and 73 by CBS (UPDATE: UGA’s official NCAA RPI is No. 73). By comparison, Georgia’s official RPI entering selection Sunday when it was picked as an at-large team in 2011 was No. 48.
The Bulldogs are 18-12 overall, but 0-6 against top 50 teams and have lost to five teams rated 110 or lower: Vanderbilt, Davidson, Georgia Tech, Auburn and Temple.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôve got five bad losses and nothing to show for it,‚Äù Palm said. ‚ÄúNot one good thing on their profile.‚Äù
Georgia is 8-4 in the last 12 games, but Palm said the selection committee hasn‚Äôt taken that into account in recent years.
An NIT trip looks good even if Georgia didn‚Äôt add another win this week, Palm said.
‚ÄúMy guess is they probably would be,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt really project the NIT, but I would think that their profile is strong enough for the NIT. I would be really surprised if they got left out of the NIT.‚Äù
Georgia will first chase an NCAA bid by trying to win as many games as it can this week at the Georgia Dome.
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