Feb 15, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox (far right) and his players celebrate after defeating the Mississippi Rebels at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia defeated Mississippi 61-60. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Post-season college basketball is upon us, and as the SEC Tournament opens on Wednesday, it’s time to take a look at the proceedings.
Locally, the Georgia Bulldogs don’t tip-off until Friday night after receiving the always exciting “double-bye” to the quarterfinals, but a lot will happen before they take the floor. UGA fans will have both eyes on Vanderbilt and Mississippi State on Wednesday night, and while Vandy will be a significant favorite, anything can happen. From there, Ole Miss and the winner of that game will face-off on Thursday for the right to play Georgia in the quarterfinals.
Here is the full bracket, courtesy of the FanSided mothership:
What does this all mean for Georgia?
We took a deeper dive at UGA’s bubble issues on Monday morning, but in short, this has virtually become a “win-or-go-home” scenario for the Bulldogs. Georgia will be, at worst, a small favorite in their quarterfinal match-up against either Vanderbilt or Ole Miss (sorry, Miss. State), but a looming match-up against Kentucky in the semifinals has trouble written all over it.
A quick look at various “projection” systems would indicate that Kentucky will be a near double-digit favorite if Georgia encounters them in the Semifinals, and if they were to get knocked off by LSU or Alabama before that (unlikely but possible), that would be good news for UGA’s prospects of winning the entire tournament. Unfortunately, even if Mark Fox’s club is able to navigate those difficult waters, a behemoth awaits in the finals.
The Florida Gators, who happen to be the #1 team in America, have a very easy road (likely a combination of Missouri and Tennessee) to the finals, and to say that Georgia would be a lopsided underdog against the Gators would be an understatement. The ugly truth, however, is that the Bulldogs have about a 1% chance of making the NCAA Tournament without an automatic bid, and the season will come down to that match-up if it takes place.
With all of that said, the SEC Tournament should be a spot for UGA fans to kick back, relax, and watch some high-level basketball. No one thought that Georgia had a chance for the #3 seed in the league or an at-large NCAA bid just two months ago, and it’s been a wild ride to this point. The Bulldogs are just 3 wins from the NCAA Tournament, and as the 2008 team reminded us with a storybook ride from the SEC Tournament to the “Big Dance”, anything can happen when the ball is in the air.
Stay tuned for game-by-game coverage, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @ATLBeatBlog for all the latest.