Dawgs Dismantle War Eagles
In a rematch of teams that played into overtime in their only meeting this season, Georgia whipped Auburn in the opening round of the SEC men’s basketball tournament in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for a twenty-first win. Trey Thompkins and UGA’s other bigs dominated the outmanned and inexperienced Auburn post players all game, while the dual point threat of Gerald Robinson Jr. and Dustin Ware controlled the tempo with slashes and passes. Georgia’s weakness is clearly outside shooting, and the grand dimensions of the mammoth Dome did nothing to improve this quagmire. Today it did not matter, as the far superior team won. Georgia moves onto Friday action, where the SEC West Champion Alabama Crimson Tide awaits off a bye. Should Georgia win at 1:00 p.m., they would advance to a 1:00 p.m. Saturday semifinal – probably against Kentucky in a rubber match.
Joe Lunardi is widely considered the preeminent NCAA tournament entry prognosticator. Three days ago, he had UGA and BAMA both in the last four teams left out of the tournament. Prior to the tip of the SEC tournament, he had reevaluated and realized that Georgia has already proven itself worthy of a tourney berth – though a second loss to BAMA would obviously hurt our NCAA seeding. BAMA has a poor strength of schedule and an average at best RPI, while Georgia is relatively strong in both important categories.
The University of Colorado – a team UGA beat without the services of All-SEC forward Trey Thompkins – is also considered a barely-in bubble team at this point in prognostication and has a similar season resume to Georgia. UGA’s biggest wins: Kentucky, at Tennessee, (twenty-two-win) UAB. UGA’s worst loss: at BAMA. Win tomorrow, and NCAA tourney entry is all but guaranteed. Lose and the tournament selection committee may be forced to choose between UGA and BAMA. Though BAMA would merit consideration for beating Georgia twice, the overall season strength of Georgia would put the committee to a test of their values. Entire body of work is what the committee says they evaluate. Leaving UGA out for a poorly-rated BAMA team based on two games would show otherwise.
Win three more consecutive 1:00 p.m. games, and UGA would be SEC tournament champions for only the third time ever, while actually taking two-of-four. The 2008 SEC tourney saw a rather weak Georgia team rally to win four games in three days at Georgia Tech’s self-titled Thriller Dome, after the Georgia Dome’s roof was severely damaged by a tornado that passed through Downtown Atlanta.