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February 11, 2013

WAY premature NIT talk...

Putting aside my disgust anger resentment over us getting excited about the NIT, I felt it important to answer Kyle King's question: Are Mark Fox's Georgia Bulldgogs Bound for a Bid to the NIT?

In the spirit and recognition of his ability to turn a phrase from five words to fifty, here is a little 700 word response....

Georgia will make the NIT if one of two things happen:

First...let's get the easiest to figure and least likely to happen out of the way. Georgia has to finish one game ahead of Florida. At 9-1, the Gators are three games ahead of Georgia, with a 2-0 head to head record. Currently, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Alabama are in front of the Dawgs. We are tied with Missouri, and the Tigers possess the tie breaker with the head to head win. Unless something crazy happens, Georgia just about has to win out and hope Florida loses four more games.

That gives the Dawgs the regular season championship that would give them an automatic NIT bid. As an aside, the language in the selection criteria makes it very clear that tie breakers come into play, so the Dawgs would have to finish one game ahead of Missouri and Kentucky, as the Wildcats' win over Florida gives them an advantage due to the SEC tiebreaker procedures.

In other words, that is a very tough row to hoe.

Second...Georgia continues to win the games they should, plus sneaks up on someone to get a signature win. The NIT selection committee faces much less public scrutiny than the NCAA selection committee. That is a double edged sword for a major conference team that currently sports four sub-150 RPI losses and one sub-250 RPI loss. Staying above .500 is the least of Georgia's worries, as far as the NIT goes.

Looking at past year's brackets, there is an emerging pattern of selection for major conference teams. The teams almost always have a sub-90 RPI. They usually have at least four quality wins. They all finished with at least 18 wins (the only team to go with 17 wins was last year's Iowa squad that was 17-16, but had four top-50 RPI wins against only two 'bad' losses).

Based on that, Georgia must go 6-2 from here on out. That isn't as impossible a task as I thought it would be just two weeks ago. The hard part is getting the two more quality wins, assuming the two Texas A&M wins can be counted as quality at the end of the season. We face Kentucky and Ole Miss. We face Alabama twice. We face Arkansas. To get to those six wins, we'll have to win three of those five games. No matter how you slice it, one of those wins will be on the road, something the selection committees might factor in, if it is a close call.

At 18-13 (12-6), Georgia would hold a mid-70s RPI. If we pull that off? We'll not only go, but likely host a game as a four seed.

Let's look at the reality scenario last. Let say we win the three games we are looking more and more likely to win: South Carolina and Tennessee at home and Vandy on the road. Plus, we win our home game against Alabama Tuesday night. That puts us at 16-15 (10-8) and a mid-90s RPI to end the regular season. I think we'd be a very hard pick into the NIT with those numbers, absent a deep run in the SEC tournament that gives the Dawgs another quality win or two. No way we get in without at least playing in the SEC Championship game and getting two quality wins during the tournament.

Put up a road win over Ole Miss or win the home game over Kentucky, then your chances go up exponentially. You get the double pop of winning a quality game and another late season win over an NCAA team.  However, even with one of those wins, you are still, at best, on the NIT bubble, if there is such a thing.

As it stands, I'll keep looking at this thing one game at a time. We dug a very deep hole the first two months of the season. We might have found a way to build a ladder, but we still have some building to do if we are to get out of it by March.

TD

See also:
- NIT Bracketology, Big Apple Buckets
Currently has Alabama and Arkansas as 2 seeds, Texas A&M as a 3 seed, and Tennessee as an 8 seed

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