Date: February 25, 2014
Tip-off Time: 9:00 PM ET
TV Channel: ESPNU, ESPN3 (Online)
After a small hiccup in Knoxville last week, the Georgia Bulldogs recovered in a big way with a 17-point win in Columbia over the South Carolina Gamecocks, and that win brings their conference record to a sparkling 9-5. That mark is good for sole possession of 3rd-place in the SEC standings, but it doesn’t necessarily bring a ton of respect, as many believe that the Missouri Tigers are soundly better than UGA at this stage despite the fact that the Bulldogs went on the road and defeated them earlier in the year.
Mark Fox and company will have the opportunity to prove those people wrong on Tuesday night.
The Dawgs welcome Missouri to Athens for a nationally televised (ESPNU) tip-off, and this is a nice test for the program. At 19-8 overall, Missouri is currently a fringe NCAA Tournament team (projected as an #11 seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi), and they’ve gotten there on the strength of a potent offense. The Tigers are 18th in the country in points per 100 possessions (115.8) and the combination of Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson is as good as it gets on the perimeter. Both guards are 6-foot-5 with skills, and each of them is averaging north of 18 points per game to lead the Mizzou offense.
Defensively, Georgia has been much better recently, rising up the ranks to a top-100 unit nationally. Scoring will continue to be at a premium for this particular group, but Missouri’s defense has been inconsistent (at best) this season, and because the Dawgs are playing in their home building, the lid that has been on the rim at times could be removed for this one.
Las Vegas has installed Georgia as a 1.5-point favorite in the game (and KenPom projects a 1-point win), and that is a nod both to how they’ve been playing and the home venue. This would be the best win of the entire recent stretch for Mark Fox’s club, and while the program certainly hasn’t “arrived” yet, this would be another stepping stone toward relevance.
Stay tuned for updates as they arise.