Posted: 8:22 am Monday, March 10th, 2014

Mercer’s in. Will UGA and Georgia State follow? 

By Mark Bradley

Dancin' Bears: Jakob Gallon and coach Bob Hoffman. (Corey Perrine/AP)

Dancin’ Bears: Mercer’s Jakob Gollon and coach Bob Hoffman. (Corey Perrine/AP)

The Mercer Bears beat Florida Gulf Coast, recently known as Dunk City, to win the Atlantic Sun tournament Sunday. The automatic bid means that Mercer will grace the NCAA field for the first time since 1985, when it was led by Sam Mitchell and when the Bears were part of an extraordinary subregional at the old Omni.

Of the eight teams playing on that Georgia court that March Friday, three were from, ahem, Georgia. In the afternoon session, Georgia beat Wichita State, which was led by Xavier McDaniel. In the long day’s nightcap, Mercer was beaten by Georgia Tech. (Georgia would lose to Illinois in Round 2; Tech would beat Syracuse.) And now we ask: Can the Peach State send three teams to this particular Big Dance?

Short answer: Yes, it could.

Georgia State has to win the Sun Belt tournament, which will be held this week in New Orleans. But the Panthers were 17-1 in conference play and just beat Western Kentucky, which finished a distant second in the league, by 18 points Saturday. Yes, that game was played at the GSU Sports Arena, and yes, strange things can happen in conference tournaments — Mercer had a tougher time beating USC Upstate in the A-Sun semis in Macon than it did in the final at FGCU — but still: It will be a major upset if the Panthers don’t prevail.

Which brings us to Georgia. The Bulldogs tied Kentucky for the second-best record in SEC play, and given that the Wildcats entered the season ranked No. 1 in the nation you’d have guessed that running even with the the Big Blue would stand a team in good stead, Big Dance-wise. But Georgia almost surely has to beat Kentucky in the SEC semis to have a chance at gaining an at-large berth — the Bulldogs’ RPI of 70 is still high for a bubble aspirant — and just to be safe UGA needs to win the tournament.

Which, given that Florida is now ranked No. 1 in the land and hasn’t lost to an SEC team this season, won’t be easy. But Florida will have little at stake in the Georgia Dome. It’s apt to be the No. 1 overall seed no matter what, and motivation, or the lack thereof, becomes a big deal in league tournaments.

Never before had an SEC team gone 18-0. But it’s worth noting that the 17-1 Kentucky team of 1996 and the 16-0 Wildcats of 2012 would both lose in the SEC final before going on to win NCAA titles, and the 16-0 Wildcats of 2003, which were ranked No. 1 in the nation, were pushed to the limit by Mississippi State in the conference title game. (That Kentucky team would be upset by Marquette and Dwyane Wade’s triple double in an NCAA regional final.)

It could be that Florida is too good to lose to anybody this week, but history suggests that great SEC teams are at their most vulnerable in this event. (True, the back-to-back NCAA champion Gators of 2006 and 2007 both won their SEC tournaments.) Given that Georgia is playing very well and that Kentucky demonstrably is not, you have to think the Bulldogs, who earned a bye into the quarterfinals, stand a good chance of playing for the title Sunday.

29 comments
GTBee
GTBee

The answer is no in and it is resounding..... NO !!!

davidv14
davidv14

A small suggestion to Slydawg: 

Ron Hunter is very happy at Georgia State

WHY? Georgia State is a upcoming program like Gonzaga was five year ago; he likes recruiting transfers from other programs, and Lon Kruger is very happy at Oklahoma where he can recruit in Texas.  Also, guess what we (UGA) do not need him!!!!

Please stop drinking that stuff!!!

slydawg
slydawg

I'd like to make a small suggestion:


Ron Hunter to Tech


Lon Kruger to UGA


chem
chem

go bears

maconlists
maconlists

Have any of you seen Mercer play? They are for real. Two 6'11" centers who can defend (one was Conference Defensive Player of the year) and shoot free throws. The Conference Player of the Year at point guard. They start 5 seniors. They go 10 players deep every game.Two more seniors in the first 4 off the bench. The third string center was the star of their win in the semifinals. One guy who is all over the Internet in Dunking contests-one reviewer said "Its not that he is a good jumper, Its that he is a poor flyer".  Four guys shooting around 40 % from three point range including a 6'7" guy who made 8 threes in a row one game. Have you heard the phrase "smart player" ? They have a 6'8"  guy who keeps the defense organized and has a knack for big plays at the right time - He is actually in his sixth year because of injuries and already has his Masters degree (Scholar Athlete of the Year). He went for 37 points against Valparaiso. The shortest starter can shoot threes but drives to the hole and dunks and has the best mid range game. He went for 29 in the semifinals. The coach was Conference Coach of the Year and has won everywhere he has gone.  These Seniors when they were Freshmen scared the Hell out of Georgia and Georgia Tech. As sophomores they beat Georgia Tech and beat Utah State to win the CollegeInsider.com post season Tournament. As Juniors they beat Florida State, Alabama, Florida Gulf Coast (a Sweet Sixteen team) and Tennessee in the NIT tournament.  As Seniors they lost to Texas by three points then beat Seton Hall, Valparaiso, Ole Miss, and Florida Gulf Coast twice. Most of these games were away games. They have the third best road record in the country over the last three years. Whoever draws them in the NCAA tournament better bring their A game.

MoistDawg
MoistDawg

im pretty confident we can beat both of those teams and even win the confrence and i think we can still get in even if we dont beat floriduh or kensucky. you see with all things being equal and if its between us and some other school we should have the prestige and name recognition to get in. i pray that i will start the tournament drinking budwisers and finish drinking champaign!!

Pistol66
Pistol66

The SEC is so weak this year, that only Florida may go!  I would say that the winner of the Kentucky/UGA game should get a bid but that may be it! Is Kentucky even ranked?  The NIT may be SEC loaded!  The SEC also rans need to watch the Big 10 and ACC tourneys and hope there are no upsets!  A run by a lower tier team would put the SEC in a bad position!  Kentucky on the bubble, I guess the best team money can buy didn't perform for Cheater Calipari!

DIT
DIT

UGA's only hope is to beat either UK or UF. UF is not going to happen. Best team they have beaten was a decent team. Every time they went up against a highly ranked opponent they got slaughtered. Still a great year for Coach Fox! They took advantage of a weak SEC field this year. Good luck in the NIT's Go Dawgs!

davidv14
davidv14

Congratulation to Merger for reaching the Big Dance.  Now, I hope I can say the same thing to Georgia and Georgia State next week at this time.   I believe both teams have to win their conference tournament to get to the big dance which probably will not be easy.   Ways for both teams to win this: 

Play defense for 40 minutes, make your free throw, and not turn the ball over.   Georgia State has not turn the ball over a lot and they made their free throw why they were 17-1 in Sun Belt.  Their defense at times can be better!!!   Georgia has to play a control tempo game; cut down on their turnover which hurt them more than other team; and get to the line and make their free throws.  Want got Georgia at 12-6 SEC was their defense; they shut down teams from scoring when it courts the most in the second half.  If both of these teams get away from what they do best than you will probably see both of teams facing each other in the first round of the NIT.    

Zing
Zing

Boils down to meeting and beating Kentucky in the semis and hoping that's enough.  I just don't see the Dogs beating Florida.

GTBob
GTBob

UGA has no quality wins, and a pretty terrible out of conference record. Their last OOC game they got slaughtered by GW. Congrats to them for beating up on the SEC but their overall resume is pretty lackluster.

MarkBradley
MarkBradley moderator

Here's another oddity: Georgia would be better served by facing Kentucky, which has an RPI of 19, in the semis, than having LSU or Alabama beat the Wildcats in Friday's quarterfinal.

SvenOttke
SvenOttke

UGa has no chance of getting in.  SEC is too "hoops weak."

Zing
Zing

Mark, does the selection committee look at trends?  Georgia started horribly but has gotten better and better as the season has gone on.  If they had been the team they are now in November, they'd probably have 21-22 wins at this point.  


Also, I dug into the numbers a little bit last night... GA is 0-6 versus teams in the top 50 in RPI based on what I'm reading, but exactly zero of those games were at home (5 were away, 1 was on a neutral court).  So, I think that their deficiencies are overstated.  


It's an odd case.  Really hope they make it.

BTC
BTC

I wouldn't bet the mortgage on UGA getting in...

UWG_1996
UWG_1996

I hate to make a case against UGA making the big dance, becuase they have had a good season after a horrible start, which I think will cost them in the end, too many bad losses to start the season. Their SOS is 87 and they are 1-5 vs Top 50, six non-conference losses and the best road win is over an overrated Missouri team,  add to that the SEC is the 7th rated conference. They will most likely have to win the SEC tournament to get in, but they have done it before to get in so you never know......

MarkBradley
MarkBradley moderator

If you're in the mid 50s, you have an at-large shot.

PTC Dawg
PTC Dawg

mark - assuming Dawgs don't beat UF, how high do you think the RPI needs to be to get in?  Seems like Linardi, et al all target the low to mid 50s.

MarkBradley
MarkBradley moderator

Let's note that Alabama went 12-4 in SEC play in 2011, won the West -- there were still divisions then -- by three games and beat Georgia to end the regular season and again in the SEC tournament ... and still wound up in the NIT while Georgia, which had much the better RPI, made the NCAA. Like it or not, the committee has consistently placed greater value on RPI over conference standings.

andrech3
andrech3

The Dawgs should be dancing! They deserve it after sweeping Mizzou and LSU who appear to be the darlings fo the committe for some reason. If the SEC send 4 teams then it should be the top 4 teams in the league and nothing less. This whole RPI thing is garbage!

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I hope the dawgs make it. They've done a hell of a job this year.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

"Can the Peach State send three teams to this particular Big Dance?"

Glad to see that Mark is a believer in Betteridge's Law of Headlines

PTC Dawg
PTC Dawg

mark - if UGA beats the Cats Sat, looks like RPI would end up in Mid-50s.  Which as you know is RIGHT on the bubble line.  Might be still a bit high, but a team winning something like 10 of 12 might sway the committee?  Thoughts?

POAD2013
POAD2013

@MoistDawg  Stick to PBR because with your spelling and education Champagne would just be wasted on you.

PTC Dawg
PTC Dawg

Exactly right.  And per the very cool and slick RPIforecast.com site, a win over a Ole Miss (mid-80s RPI) and KY, would bump up the Dawgs into the mid 50s.  Sub a win against LSU or Bama instead, no chance of getting into the 50s.   GO BIG BLUE (until Sat) 

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@MarkBradley

To think, any wins by GT make it more likely that UGA will make the NCAA.