The Georgia Bulldogs defeated the No. 23 Florida Gators 72-60 in Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday night.
Georgia hoops have seen their highs and lows this season. After starting the year 11-3 and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play the Bulldogs had dropped five of their last six entering Tuesday’s game against No. 23 Florida.
During the 1-5 skid, Georgia was tied or led during the second half in all five losses. Including a five-point lead with six minutes to play in a loss against Kansas State, a double OT loss to Arkansas and a 14-point halftime lead at Auburn that resulted in a 14-point loss, 79-65.
The Bulldogs looked like they were not going to be able to close out another contest against the 23rd-ranked Gators. With Georgia leading 37-32 at the half, Florida immediately came out in the second half and went on a 12-2 run to claim a five-point lead of its own.
Georgia regained the lead, 52-51 on a Derek Ogbeide jumper and never looked back en route to a 72-60 win on its home court.
With the win, the Bulldogs claimed their second victory over a ranked opponent this season and moved to 13-8 with a 4-5 record in SEC play. With this said, do they have a shot to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2015?
Yes, there’s certainly a shot, but Georgia will have to play its best basketball all through the month of February and into March.
With wins over then-ranked No. 21 and No. 23 St. Mary’s and Florida, the Bulldogs have two resume wins. St. Mary’s is now No. 13 riding a 16-game winning streak, and have not lost since their match up against the Bulldogs.
In addition, Georgia still has to play against No. 11 Auburn, No. 18 Tennessee twice and Florida, who could easily make its way back into the top-25 if it were to drop from the rankings.
With nine games to play, the Bulldogs will probably need to go 7-2 or better, picking up at least two wins in the four remaining games against potentially ranked opponents. This would give them a 20-10 overall record and an 11-7 record against SEC opponents.
With this record, Georgia would more than likely get a first-round bye in the SEC tournament. The Bulldogs would then probably need to make it to at least the semi-finals picking up two more wins, one likely being against another ranked opponent.
Let’s say they get knocked out in the semi-finals, this would give Georgia a 22-11 record with four or five wins against ranked opponents and an SEC tournament semi-final appearance, an almost assured lock to sneak into the big dance.
In last year’s tournament, including play-in teams, there were 18 teams with worse win percentages than what the Bulldogs would tout if they were to finish 22-11.
Though it will be tough, it’s not impossible for Georgia to make its third NCAA tournament appearance under head coach Mark Fox.