After the way things looked in November and December, you would have never thought to be reading about the Georgia Bulldogs men’s basketball team being on the verge of making the NCAA Tournament. But after edging the Ole Miss Rebels in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, 75-73, on Friday night, that’s exactly where they are.
In December there were rumblings that head coach Mark Fox was on the hot seat, now he’s being lauded as Coach of the Year material. Go figure.
The season looked lost when January rolled around. The Bulldogs were sitting at 6-6 after a humiliating defeat to George Washington, about to head into conference play. It looked to be a long, long conference slate for Fox’s Dawgs.
On Jan. 8, Georgia miraculously took down the highly-favored Missouri Tigers in an overtime thriller, and that’s when things started to turn around. Georgia suddenly took on an air of confidence, and began playing with a brutal physicality. From that point on, Georgia went 13-6 to finish the season tied for second (in record) in the SEC with Kentucky.
When Georgia beat the LSU Tigers to close out the regular season, they politely knocked on the door to the Big Dance.
Now they’re leaning on the doorbell.
But it won’t be easy. More than likely a single victory in the SEC Tournament isn’t going to get the attention of the selection committee. Georgia is going to have to do more to overcome some bad early season losses and prove themselves worthy.
A victory in the semifinals over the Kentucky Wildcats? Yeah…that might do it.
As fate would have it, that’s exactly what is in store for Georgia on Saturday night, and it’s almost as if it was a matchup tailor-made for fans. After all, Mark Fox did kind of stir the pot a little prior to the start of this year’s SEC tourney.
“I’m sick of hearing about Cat-lanta. And it is the Georgia Dome. So I hope that we’ll have representation at that.” – Mark Fox
Right there Fox put the Big Blue Nation on notice that Georgia wasn’t going to be intimidated by the Wildcats…or at least he wasn’t.
But it’s not going to be easy. John Calipari has his Wildcats playing with serious ups right now, and when the two teams met back on Jan. 25, it was over before it started, with Kentucky laying the wood on Georgia, 79-54.
The Dawgs have a ticket to the Big Dance in their hands, a win over Kentucky tonight may punch it for entrance.
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