You didn’t read that wrong. The first game of the season will be as critical for these Bulldogs getting back to the NCAAs, which is all that matters in this sport, than most of the rest of their season.
Hyperbolic? Is it?
There are only so many opportunities for Mark Fox’s mature program to get good road wins in 2016-17. Shoot - there are not a ton of chances to get good wins on the schedule to begin with because of the league this program is in. Still, we’ve seen that Fox’s teams have struggled to win on the road. Last season the Bulldogs were 3-8 in true road games. That coupled with the fact that UGA didn’t have a top-50 win last season… there was no way they were getting into the NCAAs.
But in many ways this Clemson season opener is a can’t-lose situation for the Bulldogs. It is a road game against a power foe. Frankly it is a game these Dawgs should lose. The NCAA will look at it the same way. But that might not be the best way for UGA to look at it - this is a major opportunity for Georgia to get a good road win which will benefit it the rest of the season.
Most schools have around 15 or so games that will make up their NCAA resume. Georgia can’t say that. Look at the schedule - there are so few games where UGA can point to as opportunities to make a splash to get into the NCAAs…
vs. Kansas *
@ Georgia Tech*
@ Texas A&M
Not a ton to work with there.
Only four home games that are true movers on the schedule. Beating No. 2 Kentucky? I just don’t see that right now or any time soon; same goes for a “possible" matchup with No. 3 Kansas on Nov. 22. These Dawgs are going to need to win at least one of the two against Marquette and No. 21 Texas in order to really put themselves in position. Both with be tough match ups, but are winnable to be sure because the games are in Athens. I’ve got a star beside the Jackets because I really am not sure a win over Georgia Tech will do anything to significantly help Georgia’s chances.
That means the Bulldogs could run up big numbers in the win column the way the Chickens did last season and have little to show for it when the NCAAs tip in March. Wins are only part of the equation - you have to have meaningful wins at the end of the day.
No one thinks about basketball this time of year. I get it. But in March, when the NCAA starts looking at games that matter and games that don’t - this one will matter for both the Bulldogs and Tigers.