Not to rain on the considerable feel-good vibes surrounding the Georgia men’s basketball program, but the Bulldogs’ NCAA tournament hopes still rest on winning the Southeastern Conference tournament in Atlanta this week.
At least that’s how Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com’s NCAA bracket expert, sees it.
“They need to win,” Palm said. “They’re not an at-large. They’ve got way too many bad losses. There’s nothing for them as an at-large.”
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’t 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’s 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.
“They’ve got five bad losses and nothing to show for it,” Palm said. “Not one good thing on their profile.”
Georgia is 8-4 in the last 12 games, but Palm said the selection committee hasn’t taken that into account in recent years.
An NIT trip looks good even if Georgia didn’t add another win this week, Palm said.
“My guess is they probably would be,” he said. “I don’t 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.”
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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