Outlets: Dawgs Project into NCAAs

ATHENS – Georgia's team will gather Sunday night to see their post-season fate.

According to most projections they will like what they see when CBS broadcasts which teams have made it into the 68-team NCAA field Sunday night.

Georgia is projected as playing in the tournament by Fox Sports, CBS, Sports Illustrated and USA Today. Only ESPN, which may have the loudest megaphone and certainly has the most repetitive updates, has Georgia out of the field.

As of Saturday night Georgia was penciled in as follows:

Outlet Seed
CBS 11th
Sports Illustrated 12th
Fox Sports 11th
USA Today 10th

First, some math… there are 68 teams in the field; 31 of whom are automatic qualifiers. Several conferences, like the SEC, ACC and Big East, are expected to have multiple selections get into the Big Dance easily. That means some of the 31 automatic qualifiers don't hurt teams like Georgia, who are on the bubble.

That leaves about seven at-large spots to spread around the entire nation. Luckily for Georgia not too much can go wrong during play on Sunday.

Penn State, a former bubble team, has played themselves into the NCAAs thanks to their run in the Big Ten Tournament. Dayton could make things interesting should they win the Atlantic Ten Tournament, but that conference will likely only get three bids – the winner of the A-10 Finals plus Temple and Xavier (two teams Georgia lost to earlier this season). If Richmond wins that game Dawg fans should breathe easy.

So who are the Dawgs going up against? Like Georgia, most other bubble teams are done with their seasons. There are three bubble teams in the ACC, but it looks like Virginia Tech punched their ticket on Friday with a win over Florida State. Clemson certainly helped their case after thrashing fellow bubbler Boston College that same day.

Penn State's road to the Big Ten title probably gives that conference seven bids. Colorado, a team that Georgia beat earlier this season, also likely earned a spot in the Big Dance. They are the only Big 12 school on the bubble. Washington State's shot at getting in ended with a loss to Washington in the first round of the Pac 10. Southern Cal may be competition for Georgia on the bubble. Alabama has two head-to-head wins over Georgia in the last week, so the Tide has that major factor in their corner.

Memphis' win over UTEP in the Conference USA finals gets them in, and likely puts the Minors out. UAB, who Georgia defeated earlier this season, was the #1 seed in that tournament, but lost their only game – which probably put them out of the NCAAs. Utah State won the WAC title early Sunday morning, which probably paved a path for Georgia to get into the Big Dance. Missouri State has an outside shot at an at-large, but might not have the schedule needed to get in. St. Mary's lost to Gonzaga in the WCC finals, but could get an at-large bid. VCU's loss to Old Dominion probably cost them a shot at the show.

To cut to the chase… all of that means there were seven at-large "bubble" spots available on Saturday night.

Penn State and Virginia Tech are in due to their performance in their conference tournaments.

That moves the number to five.

Alabama should have a head-to-head advantage over Georgia, but the NCAA selection committee doesn't always work that way. The Tide's computer numbers are not good compared to the Dawgs', but for sanity's sake let's just say Bama goes ahead of Georgia because they beat them twice in the last seven days. (Again, however, the committee might not be comparing Bama to Georgia, but rather the field, which is certainly a reason that the Tide could get passed over in favor of the Dawgs on Sunday.)

That moves the number to four.

That's where things get tight (only four spots left), but also go heavily in Georgia's favor when looking at the totality of the season. Of the remaining bubble teams Georgia has the best overall numbers.

Bubble Teams RPI SOS Worst Loss (RPI) Best Win (RPI)
Georgia 48 40 Alabama (80) Kentucky (9)
Clemson 56 58 Virginia (141) Florida State (54)
Boston College 58 38 Rhode Island (100) Texas A&M (29)
USC 69 39 Bradley (234) Texas (11)
UTEP 59 98 Pacific (190) Memphis (28)
UAB 31 78 Arizona State (163) VCU (49)
Missouri State 42 125 Evansville (136) Wichita State (62)
St. Mary's 46 102 San Diego (319) St. John's (23)
VCU 49 87 Georgia State (223) UCLA (43)

The Bulldogs are the only team remaining with both an RPI and strength of schedule under 50. They also have the best win (Kentucky; RPI - 9) and most acceptable loss (Alabama; RPI 80)

ESPN is the only outlet to have Saint Mary's in, and the only outlet leaving Georgia out. The Bulldogs seem to be in a three-way fight with the Gaels, USC and old rival Clemson for one of the final spots in the Big Dance. Even though Alabama topped Georgia twice it seems they needed to beat Kentucky today to get consideration as they are left off the list of most outlets' projections. That, too, could move Georgia into the Big Dance.

When to panic

Georgia fans should know when/if things are going wrong. Here is a quick guide:

The following schools are not what Georgia fans want to hear before the Dawgs are called out on CBS: St. Mary's, Clemson, USC, Colorado, Alabama and UTEP.

If four or more of those teams are called before Georgia's name is called then the Dawgs are almost certainly headed to the NIT. If UTEP, in particular, is called Georgia could be in some trouble. A Richmond win would also help Georgia avoid Dayton stealing their bid.

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