Damage That's Long Overdue

ATHENS - There really is a lot on the line when Georgia tips off on Friday.

Georgia basketball, which was left for nearly dead in 2003, has slowly made its way back into the consciousness of SEC basketball. Consider that in the last two seasons Georgia has finished third in the SEC - last year behind two Final Four teams, and this year behind powerful Kentucky.

I hate to be so blunt, but no one cares about the SEC’s regular season in basketball. The NCAA Tournament? That’s another story, and that’s really where this program has failed for the last 12 years. That failure can end this weekend in Charlotte.

Consider: Georgia hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2002. In that time every school in the SEC - outside of those losers in Columbia, South Carolina - have won an NCAA Tournament game.

EVERY SCHOOL except the Chickens.

Every school in the SEC outside of the Cocks, Georgia Mississippi State, Arkansas and Ole Miss have been to the Sweet 16 in that time.

If South Carolina weren’t so good at being so bad Georgia would be the laughing stock of the country’s most powerful conference.

I know. I get it. Georgia, for the bulk of that time, was a wreck (sometimes and embarrassment) in basketball).

But how long do you look at the car you drove into a ditch before you go out and buy another one? It is well past time that the Bulldogs got their act together on the hardwood, and it seems like that’s the case right now.

Under Mark Fox, Georgia has won 20 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since Jim Harrick was the coach. But while the only “Mark” in Athens that seems to be criticized in Athens has the last name “Richt”, one has to acknowledge that Mark Fox has yet to win a NCAA Tournament game in his first five years as coach - that’s not a great standard.

It is year six, and now Fox has his team in position to win a tournament game. And trust me when I tell you that the NCAA is what makes or breaks programs. Georgia is a 5.5-point underdog to Michigan State, which is understandable. But this is a winnable game. And this is a winnable pod.

Virginia doesn’t look like the team they were three or four weeks ago - not at all.

So the question from me might be stern, but it is simple: Is this basketball program finally going to take a very necessary step forward or not? Getting into the NCAA Tournament (and I’m quoting 1990s Grammy-winning Hip-Hop recluse Lauryn Hill) is just the minimum.

Time to do some damage - it is long overdue.

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