The 40,000-foot view

ATHENS - Let’s sort of get into reality here on where Georgia stands re: NCAAs.

Right now, no matter how angry you are about the one-point home loss to Auburn over the weekend, Georgia is in the NCAAs. That’s really not disputed by anyone., which is a website that keeps up with every single bracket projector out there, lists Georgia as an 8 seed.

One bracket maker has Georgia as high as a six seed (which was a bracket that was published before the loss to Auburn); one as low as a 12 seed (that one was published on Monday).

So what?

I’m not suggesting that is the end all be all in bracket projections. What that site does, however, is it lists the teams - in order by average - so that you have a very good layout and 40,000-foot view of each team.

How did we get here?

Dawgs at 16-8; 7-5 SEC

Major wins: vs. Ole Miss (37); at Texas A&M (44)

Major losses: at Georgia Tech (116); at South Carolina (104); vs. Auburn (136)

Standard wins: vs. Seton Hall (73); vs. Florida (77); vs. Tennessee (83); at Kansas State (100); vs. and at Vanderbilt (108); vs. Colorado (112); at Chattanooga (131); vs. Stony Brook (133); at Mississippi State (178); vs. Norfolk State (182); vs. Mercer (224); vs. Florida Atlantic (277); vs. Troy (317)

Standard losses: at Kentucky (2); neutral Gonzaga (8); vs. Arkansas (18); vs. LSU (53); neutral Minnesota (76)

***Note: Georgia should have played one more game in the pre-season NIT, but that game was taken away at the start of the season.***

So, Georgia is 2-3 vs. teams in the top 50 of RPI. The Dawgs are 7-3 in their last ten games. If the tournament ended today Georgia would get in - and would probably be a No. 7, 8, 9 or 10 seed. Perhaps an No. 11 seed, but that seems unlikely.

Now then, Georgia could be higher - even with the three bad losses. Why? What looked like very good wins vs. Seton Hall (73) and at Kansas State (100) are not what they once looked like. Also, and as I have predicted, Georgia Tech (116) has really fallen since November. A road loss to a major conference school shouldn’t be so bad, but Tech is one of the worst ten major conference basketball teams in the country.

The bad news is that Georgia just lost to Auburn, which is one of the six-worst major conference teams in the country - not great, but hardly dead.

Georgia’s main competition to get into the NCAAs are as follows:

Likely just above the Dawgs: Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Georgetown, Providence, West Virginia, SMU, Indiana, Ohio State, San Diego State, Texas and Cincinnati.

Likely just below the Dawgs: Dayton, Iowa, Ole Miss, Xavier, Colorado State, Michigan State, Temple, LSU, Stanford, St. John’s, Texas A&M, Illinois, UCLA, NC State, Tulsa, Miami, Old Dominion, Purdue, Boise State, Seton Hall, Oregon, Massachusetts and George Washington.

Since Georgia is in let’s concentrate on the teams below Georgia since, by my count 15 teams are going to have to pass Georgia to get into the NCAAs.

And that’s really the issue that’s easy to forget after losing a one-point game to a team you have no business losing to - other teams have dumb losses as well. The difference is that those teams are not Georgia, so those in red and black don’t bother to notice them.

Dayton (30) - The Flyers don't have any losses as bad as Georgia’s right now. One could make the case that Dayton is in front of Georgia - that case has merit. Dayton has a poor strength of schedule (108), and only has VCU (12) left on their schedule in the top 50 to play. All of the other teams Dayton will play are behind them - many in the over 150.

Iowa (56) - At 15-10, Iowa is going to have to win a lot here down the stretch. They can do that because of their schedule, but the Big Ten ain’t what it used to be. And the Hawkeyes already have ten losses.

Ole Miss (37) - The Rebels really have a few bad losses - all at home against Western Kentucky, TCU and Charleston Southern. But they’ve got three good wins - at Arkansas, Neutral Cincinnati and vs. Texas A&M. Ole Miss should be fine, but even with a win over Georgia they might not pass the Dawgs.

Xavier (40) - Three bad losses (vs. Creighton and at both DePaul and Auburn) won’t outweigh a sweep of Georgetown (21) and a home win over Providence. Losing at Creighton is not an option at the end of the season. Xavier doesn’t have a bunch of wiggle room. They might have to make it in with 15 total losses.

Colorado State (26) - Only bad loss is at New Mexico. The Rams will get in, but they will have a hard time moving up because even if they win the Mountain West they will only move up so much. They might not have the schedule to leap Georgia considering who they have left to play. The Rams need more meat in their basketball diet.

Michigan State (36) - Basketball blue bloods get in. I’m not going to go down this one. The Spartans will figure it out.

Temple (31) - Again, not a lot of meat left in the Owls’ schedule. Only one bad loss and a win over No. 1 Kansas means Temple is likely safe, but probably doesn’t have the slate to jump Georgia.

LSU (53) - The Tigers beat Georgia in a wild game earlier in the year, but that’s their second-best win. LSU still has some work to do. Three inexplicable losses (Auburn, Mississippi State and Missouri) has me shaking my head. Georgia and LSU have a lot in common, but LSU has a poor strength of schedule (89)… that’s the issue right now. LSU is going to have to win at least a game in Nashville.

Stanford (50) - The Trees have a solid strength of schedule (SOS), but have three bad losses and only two top 50 wins. Trees have some work to do.

St. John’s (41) - Solid SOS (31) and three top 50 wins probably gets the Red Storm in, but they will have to have no more dumb losses along the way.

Texas A&M (44) - The Aggies are probably in the worst shape of the six SEC teams that are likely in the NCAAs. A poor SOS (86) and no top 50 wins? That’s not the way to get into the NCAAs. A&M has a lot of work to do, but only plays two teams (LSU and Arkansas) that can help them these final weeks.

Illinois (45) - The Indians have won four of their last five to position themselves for a late-season run. But the Big Ten isn’t what it once was and Michigan State and Iowa are the only teams left on the slate that can help Illinois, and wins there wouldn’t get them in for sure. Illinois is one of the last four in right now.

UCLA (38) - The fighting Tony Parkers are sitting at 16-10 thanks to going 7-3 in their last ten. The Bruins might have only one top 50 win if the season ended today. Winning at Arizona would help a ton. UCLA needs to do some damage somewhere, and no dumb losses. The Bruins are one of the last four in right now.

NC State (49) - SOS is a home run (4), so was the win over Louisville (14) over the weekend. The Pack also has the home win over Duke. The ACC will provide the Pack with a ton of opportunities to get in - winning four of their last five is not out of the question. But the Pack is one of the last four in right now.

Tulsa (47) - A poor SOS (107) and one top 50 win shows that Tulsa had better not screw it up here at the end. 17-7 might look good on paper, but right now Tulsa is the final team in the NCAAs.

Miami (64), Old Dominion (54), Purdue (66), Boise State (42), Seton Hall (73), Oregon (60), Massachusetts (39) and George Washington (74) can all still work their way in, but all have major flaws and are all out right now.

Boise State has a SOS of 97; George Washington has a SOS of 150; Old Dominion has a SOS of 137 - just far too low. Seton Hall has a massive win over Villanova, but was swept by DePaul (134) and has also lost to Marquette (142). Purdue and Miami have four 100-plus-level losses, and that’s not going to work.

Oregon and UMass both still have a shot of jumping some teams, but they both have issues as well. Oregon has two 100-plus-level losses and only wins over UCLA and Illinois in the top 50. UMass’ SOS is outstanding at No. 40, but have three 100-plus-level losses. Their season will come down to this week at Rhode Island and at VCU. Win those and UMass is probably jumping someone. Lose both and there might not be enough of a ladder to climb up for the Minutemen.

So, yes, Georgia is flawed, but so is everyone else around them - even more so in many ways.

The good news is that Georgia has two legit shots at nailing down a spot - at Ole Miss on Feb. 25th and, of course, vs. Kentucky on March 3rd.

Georgia is going to need to figure out how to get to 20 wins on the season. That will almost certainly get them in. That’s 20 wins including at least the one game in Nashville at the SEC Tournament.

Another dumb loss to either South Carolina, Missouri or at Auburn won’t knock Georgia out, but it will make things shaky going into Selection Sunday. Georgia has 16 wins right now, and could very well get to 20 without another impressive win on the season. Wins over the Cocks, Tide and both sets of Tigers probably ends the discussion of if Georgia will get in. At worse, sitting at 20-13 with an RPI under 35 is going to be too good to miss the NCAAs.

The one thing to watch is what happens in these conference tournaments:

Missouri Valley - if someone other than Northern Iowa or Wichita State wins that takes away a spot.

West Coast - if someone other than Gonzaga (perhaps BYU) wins that takes away a spot.

Atlantic 10 - if someone other than VCU or Dayton wins that takes away a spot.

American - if someone other than SMU, Cincinnati, Temple or Tulsa wins that takes away a spot.

Mountain West - if someone other than San Diego State or Colorado State (perhaps Boise State) wins that takes away a spot.

All of the other tournaments have so many other teams that will likely win that are already in the tournament there is no need to mention it today. If someone like Lowly South Carolina or Wake Forest win the SEC and ACC then, obviously, that would take away a spot as well. But that’s hard to believe.

The point? As I see it Georgia is going to have to take a serious slide to work its way out of the NCAAs. In addition, this is a zero-sum game - someone has to come up for Georgia to get knocked out… and that’s not a given.

Win four games or more, and Mark Fox and company will be dancing.

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