Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Amen Corner of Georgia Basketball

Back in the Fall, I was chatting with a few basketball fans (the few there are in October) and we all arrived at the conclusion that the next five games are the Amen Corner of Georgia's Hoops season.  Win four or more of them and you are going to be set up well for the rest of the season.

Looking at the five games, there is one that you have to figure you are not expected to win, the road game in Lexington.  One is a push, the game against Florida a week from today.  In the other three Georgia will be slight favorites.  Tennessee is a tough game, no matter what (check out From Hedges to Hardwood for a good review of tonight's game).  They match up well with one of our strengths, Gerald Robinson's speed, and have plenty of depth.  Arkansas has played well at home and getting there is much like getting home from LaGuardia at Christmas with snow at O'Hare.  Mississippi State is starting to come together after the brouhaha in the stands in Hawaii, but you have to think this is the most winnable of the bunch.

So where does that leave Georgia?  Like Amen Corner at Augusta National, playing this stretch error free and smart are necessary.   Playing under par with four or more wins, absent some late season swoon, puts your NCAA tourney chances at about 90%.  Three wins still puts those chances at about 75%.  Do less? Well, you have a lot of ground to make up.  The Arkansas game is the first of the final 10 regular season games the NCAA selection tourney looks at.  Closing 5-5 isn't optimum, but win three or four out of these five and Georgia will be at around 10-11 wins in conference and 21-22 wins on the regular season.  Unless those five losses to close the season include losses at home to Auburn and LSU, I just don't see how Georgia doesn't make the NCAAs.

More importantly, winning four of these games and you have a huge confidence boost to take with you with the rest of the way, hopefully allowing you to close out with a much better record than 5 wins in the final ten games.  Georgia has played like a 3-5 seed this season, think the Kentucky and Notre Dame games.  Georgia has played like an NIT team this season, think come from behind wins at SLU and Mercer.  Now is when we find out which one they really are.

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