Why I (and apparently I alone) like Georgia’s NCAA chances

Might the Bulldogs make a little noise in Charlotte? (Mark Humphrey/AP photo)

Might the Bulldogs make a little noise in Charlotte? (Mark Humphrey/AP photo)

Might the Bulldogs make a little noise in Charlotte? (Mark Humphrey/AP photo)

The official Bradley bracket in the 28th iteration of Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco has Georgia — yes, Georgia — reaching the East Regional final. This was both a (slight) flight of fancy and a considered choice.

Everybody else will pick Michigan State to beat the Bulldogs on Friday, and if that doesn’t happen then Virginia will be hugely favored in the Round of 32. I have Georgia beating both. As ever, I have my reasons.

1. Georgia has good guards. This presumes that Kenny Gaines, who has missed two of the Bulldogs’ past three games with a sprained ankle, will return to health. But he’ll have almost a week to rest and recuperate– Georgia doesn’t play until Friday — and sprained ankles aren’t quite as serious as tweaked hamstrings (such as the one that limited Georgia State’s Ryan Harrow to six minutes in the Sun Belt tournament) or broken fingers/appendectomies. (See below.) Guards are kind of a big deal in college basketball, especially in March.

2. This isn’t a great Michigan State team. The Spartans lost at home to Texas Southern (which made the NCAA tournament) in December. They were 13-7 in late January. They were 1-4 against Wisconsin and Maryland, the Big Ten’s two best teams. They enter the Big Dance with 11 losses, and only one Tom Izzo team that carried double-figure losses into the NCAA has played beyond the first weekend.

3. Georgia won’t be shocked by Michigan State’s talent — or Virginia’s, either. When you’ve played Kentucky twice, you’ve seen the best collection of players outside the NBA. The Bulldogs weren’t routed by the Wildcats either time; indeed, their 82-74 loss in Athens on March 3 could turn out to be Kentucky’s final close call. Georgia has also played Arkansas (lost twice) and Gonzaga (lost once) and LSU (lost in overtime). The knock — and it’s legitimate — is that the Bulldogs haven’t really beaten anybody except Ole Miss, which barely made the field of 68. That said …

4. They don’t call it Madness because form holds. Five teams seeded No. 9 or lower have reached the Elite Eight over the past nine NCAA tournaments. Georgia is a No. 10. It doesn’t happen every year, but it can and does happen.

5. I have great respect for Virginia, but I’m leery of Virginia. The Cavaliers are the hardest team in the country to play — that Pack-Line defense appears to deploy a sixth man — but they move at such a deliberate pace that they don’t score much, either. That leaves a lesser margin of error. And Justin Anderson, Virginia’s leading scorer, just returned from the double whammy of a broken finger and appendicitis. He played 26 minutes in ACC tournament two games and didn’t score.

6. Mark Fox hasn’t won an NCAA game coaching Georgia, but he has won some NCAA games. Two, in fact, both when coaching Nevada. The first was over Texas in 2005, the second over Creighton in 2007. That’s a while ago, yes, but Fox is a good enough coach to have a March run in him. As a disinterested observer, I enjoy watching him work because he surprises me. (I recall the point-guard-as-low-post-distributor offense he conjured up against Ole Miss in the SEC tournament last year, and he threw a bunch of weird stuff at Kentucky two weeks back.) Izzo and Tony Bennett are two of the very best in the business, but the guy Georgia’s bench isn’t an empty chair.

The full Fiasco column can be found here.

You can enter the Fiasco, our annual NCAA tournament contest, here.

My bracket can be found here.

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

74 comments
jacketbacker
jacketbacker

Hey Bark.....how's that pandering to mutt nation working out for ya??

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

Hey Bradley there was a reason you were alone in picking the dogs.

One and done, again...Guess your elite 8 pick for the dogs was a

tad off. LOL

DamonH
DamonH

ah well, it's March Madness you win some you lose some (unfortunately when it comes to picking UGA you end up losing more than winning)

Wilbo
Wilbo

Don't ask me why, but I decided even a blind pig finds an acorn every now n then (See: Bradley getting lucky so far w his starry-eyed Hawks predictions) and I went w Bradley and gave Georgia 1 win on my bracket. I'm sure I'll regret it, but, oh, well.......


LOGS1973
LOGS1973

Sorry Mark UGA not very good! They hit their first jumper against the hogs

halfway into second half? Your typical SEC homer ilk shining through.

They would lose by 30 points to UVA  even with a miracle win over the

Spartans. My gosh, the dogs lost to a terrible GT team man!!!

JimmieSpartan
JimmieSpartan

Dark horse: Michigan State. The Spartans ended their season with four wins (Ohio State, Maryland, Purdue and Indiana) in their last five games. All four teams are in the NCAA tournament. On Sunday, Michigan State nearly upset Wisconsin in a thrilling overtime loss to the Badgers in the Big Ten tournament title game. This is Tom Izzo's stage. This is not his deepest or most talented team. These Spartans are gritty, though, and they're playing well right now. A Michigan State run to the Final Four through this region is not crazy.

odelljones
odelljones

oh, and funny how GT fans are all up in the UGA fans faces regarding their 4-0 mark in basketball.

Forgetting their 2-12 record against Georgia in FB the last 14 years.

As the church lady says, "Isn't that convenient.........."

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

@odelljones Odell  How did the dogs do in NCAA tourney today?

Tech won the last football game, basketball game and baseball.

Does UIGA plan on fielding athletics going forward.. Where is Ray

Goff, Damon Evans... Vince for gods sake?

odelljones
odelljones

Michigan State, aside from its tournament run, has not been impressive. I think it will be a good game.

If Georgia wins, i would like all its supporters to contact ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg who has been trashing Georgia for the last four weeks and saying they aren't good or deserving.

If Michigan State wins, the sun will rise the next day and it will be time to get ready for spring football.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

MSU is a good BB team while UGA is just above average. Big 10 BB is much much better than SEC even though UK is at the top. UK will have a tuff time vs Wisky of the get together.


UK,Hogs,and Florida (down this year) are the best BB programs in the SEC with the rest near the same.

GT71
GT71

I got a sawbuck says you are wrong, there Brad-boy.

Yes, UGA played KY twice - and lost...not close.

They MAY get by MSU, but not, repeat NOT UVA.

Bracket all you want.  Not gonna happen.

charlestonian77
charlestonian77

we came this close to firing our coach.  we have a hard time winning games and finished at the bottom of the acc yet. we are 4 an 0 against the dwags.

that tells you how WEAK the sec is. like bama last year in fb.... kentucky isnt as strong as they appear.

HonestInformed
HonestInformed

Because the UGA schedule was a joke! The team is simply not very good.


UGA would not even be considered for the NCAA Tournament or NIT if they played the GT BB schedule. Heck........even GT had an easy victory against UGA.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

Im a GT fan but im rooting for UGA, Gonzaga, Virginia, Iowa State and Wisconsin.  

Basically anyone but Kentucky, i hate how they build their teams now.  

Lowcountry Jacket
Lowcountry Jacket

@BravesFan79 Always liked Michigan State, but it would be good to see Georgia get a win Friday and maybe give UVa a good run.  Anything can happen in March, so who knows...

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

They haven't beaten a top fifty RPI team all season, and they lost to a bad Tech team. Enough said.


No more South Carolina and MsState squads moving forward. This fact may bite KY's butt as well. I certainly hope so. My only reason to watch the tourney is to pull for a senior laden mid major to beat the KY's "six month and done" group.

Baghead
Baghead

Bradley,  I got a $1,000 says UGA doesn' t make it to the Sweet 16.  It's time to put your money where your goofball analysis comes from.  Is the NCAA tournament a crapshoot just like the MLB playoffs?  You seem to allude to that in your Kindercare article above.

96JB
96JB

This State produces i'd say 2 to 3 of the best prep players EVERY year, in the country. You can't get one to sniff going to Georgia. If they are THAT good, everyone tells them to head to a big time basketball program. It's the way it is.....and the way it will stay. That's why Stegman is still in use. Everyone knows it. No investment in a building or a coach.

RunningBackU
RunningBackU

The trolls on this board are so funny -- especially the baby Bees. Mark Bradley isn't entitled to his opinion? And there's no reason UGA can't hang with Michigan State. Or UVA, for that matter. We have to put together 40 solid minutes, but it can be done. Again, watch the game against UK. If not for the worst free throw shooting game of the season, we win that game. And, for anyone who paid attention, it was clear Mark Fox had his eye on the tourney; winning the SEC tourney would have maybe bumped us up 3 seeds. When Gaines plays, we are a much better team.

Baghead
Baghead

@RunningBackU Wrong.  It was a lot more than free throws.  Watch the last 4:10.  This team has a serious gametime psych issues.  You saw it on Saturday against Arkansas.  If they get down by more than 8 points or have two or three really bad plays in a row, they get very dejected and play way off their game.  Fox's poor clock management or use of timeouts doesn't nothing but fuel that loss.  By the time they wake and try to gather themselves on the sideline or locker room, it's too late.  Mark Fox can't coach and can't recruit.  We're all tired of the excuses from both he and CMR.

BLowE12
BLowE12

@RunningBackU Well.. Injuries IS a real reason Georgia University will have problems. 


But don't let that "fact" get in your way from making your "Opinion". 


P.S. In the UK game, the lack of inside presence was a major reason for that lost not free throws.

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

@RunningBackU Moral victories don't get you anywhere in the tournament, and neither will bad free throw shooting.  Even if they surprise Mich St., UGA will not be able to handle Virginia's defense.

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

@RunningBackU trolls make stuff up just to get a reaction.  people disagreeing that UGA will not do well in a basketball tournament is just common sense.  learn the difference before participating on comment boards.

camelToeJoe
camelToeJoe

@RunningBackU


U might hang with MSU this year, they are down.  You will not "hang" with UVA.


What teams did UGA beat outside of the conference?  What teams did UGA beat inside the conference.  Nothing to see here except playing KY close.

RunningBackU
RunningBackU

@ATLBrown @RunningBackU Wow. Such incredible insight. It's almost like it wasn't obvious that people disagree. @ATLBrown, you might be too smart for your own good here. I really appreciate the advice.


RunningBackU
RunningBackU

@Baghead @RunningBackU I don't disagree that our offense was pathetic the last 6-7 mins. But, when you go 9-19 from the line (3 of those in one and one situations), it's fair to say that contributed heavily in the loss to UK. That said, they are clearly the better team. No one is arguing that. The point is that UGA can hang with the best team in the country, so why can't we hang with MSU?


In terms of Fox -- I do think the jury is still out on him. We need to actually progess in the tourney. I would suggest getting Maten was a coup and he's grabbed a couple of other high-profile players. But, until we embrace hoops a bit more in Athens, we will never do a whole lot better than Fox.

irishmafia1457
irishmafia1457

Well of course you do, never hesitate you make UGA the champion of every sport only to backtrack and plead injuries, bad calls, bad schedule etc. to justify why they have almost zero national championships in the major sports

JCDCumming
JCDCumming

@irishmafiahigs  The only sports UGA doesn't have a national championship in is men's and women's basketball. In fact, if they win the national championship this year in men's bball, they'll become the first SEC team to win the national championship in the big "3" major sports (fball, bball, baseball).  Only 6 schools have done this.  3 in the pac-10, 3 in big-10.

BLowE12
BLowE12

@GeorgeStein YES it is!! 


Maybe not a good one but known The less a reason! 


Thats like saying, thats not an opinion. lol 

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

Why Georgia will not get to the Sweet 16:


1.  Good record, but lack of quality victories - they have beaten only one tournament team (Miss), and have some bad losses (incl. Tech loss).

2. Izzo/Mich St. almost always overachieve.  Not their best year, but Izzo always has his team ready come tourney time.

3.  If they beat Mich St. they will only have 48 hours to prepare for UVA's defense.  VA defense is best in the country and a unique style that will be hard to prepare for in two days - and you can't try and prepare for it now without losing focus on the first game.  They held Georgia Tech to 27 points - 27 points for an entire game.

4.  Mark Fox has not won a tournament game as HC of Georgia.

5.  Mark Bradley is picking Georgia to do well.

BCB
BCB

GO DAWGS!

5150POAD
5150POAD

The Tourney is all about MATCHUPS. If it is an even match-up either can win but if it is good for one and bad for the other it really doesn't matter the 2 teams playing. 

KBP
KBP

Mark,


I would feel better about winning with a totally healthy Juwan Parker and Kenny Gaines who is unafraid to shoot from the perimeter. We need more shooter's than just Frazier. Otherwise, MSU will just clog the lane and we're done. I agree this is not the typical MSU team we are accustomed to seeing so there is a chance.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Bradley, you goofball, your anti-evidence pick of the Hawks doing great things hasn't blown up in your face just yet, but let's don't push the sublime totally into the ridiculous, okay?

coj
coj

If MichiganState deploys a successful full court press, the Bulldogs will lose. Arkansas showed Georgia's weakness against the press.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Mark Bradley is Mr. College Basketball.

GTDude
GTDude

Not this year!

One and Done,

Committee put them up against a good Sparty team


DIT
DIT

If they were 100% healthy I might go along with this Mr. Bradley. 

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

@DIT

Concur - too many injuries, and in addition the refs will walk in wearing Michigan State kneepads, signed by Tom Izzo.

Zero chance.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

C'mon son.  I can go with the "upset" of Michigan State.  Heck, I can even roll with upsetting Virginia too.  Tournament upsets are built on momentum so getting 2 big ones in one weekend isn't a big deal (see UGA's tornado SEC Championship).  However, the momentum goes away when the Sweet Sixteen is the following week in a different city.

These Dawgs are dangerous but they haven't proven sustained success against good teams.  They haven't even beat one really good team.

Scott Nunyabidness
Scott Nunyabidness

You forget, Georgia lost to Georgia Tech.  Texas Southern would destroy the Bees, who also lost to South Carolina Upstate.  No ill will towards Georgia, but I just don't see it.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@Scott Nunyabidness UGA's loss to Tech isn't the problem.  That was the first regular season game of the season and both programs seemed to go different directions by January.  The bigger deal is that UGA lost twice to South Carolina and once to Auburn without beating Arkansas, LSU, or Kentucky. 

That said, their performance against Kentucky (both games) does suggest a puncher's chance against MSU and even Virginia but the injuries and focus are concerning.

Dawggie
Dawggie

Come on Mark, they couldn't even put 50 points on the board vs ARK.

I'm just hoping they don't get blown out.