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Post Lady Dogs in or out?

Monday March 16, 2009

The women’s NCAA Tournament bracket has usually been a question of who and where rather than if for Georgia. The Lady Dogs have been left out only twice in tournament history. With the team already deciding that they will decline a WNIT bid, tonight’s selection show (7 p.m., ESPN) will determine whether the Lady Dogs sneak into the field or if the SEC Tournament ended their season for just the third time in program history.

I’ll be honest: I’m not optimistic about their chances this year. 18-13 is a shaky record even for a program with Georgia’s reputation and name recognition. A late-season five-game losing streak really hurt, and they came up just short of a significant bid-securing win in the SEC Tournament. They do have some things in their favor, but as you’ll see there seems to be a bit more on the minus side of the ledger.


  • Three big wins. Georgia knocked off Auburn, Vanderbilt, and Florida during the season. Not too many bubble teams can point to three such wins over ranked opponents. Georgia also played eventual SEC Tournament champ Vanderbilt closer than anyone else last weekend. They’ve proven they can play with the best in the country, but did they beat enough of them?
  • Hosting the dance. You can debate whether it should be a consideration, but it is. Duluth, Ga., is one of the opening weekend host sites for the tournament, and Georgia is the host school for that sub-regional. Ticket sales and attendance are very sensitive subjects for the women’s tournament, and leaving out one of the host schools would pull the plug on local support and attendance for the tournament. Rutgers, at 18-12, is another bubble team set to host a sub-regional, so we’ll see if the selection committee gives these hosts a push they might not otherwise deserve.


  • Weak nonconference resume. Georgia’s nonconference schedule wasn’t overwhelming to begin with, and they didn’t notch many quality wins along the way. The few quality opponents – Virginia, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, and Xavier – were all losses.
  • Too many losses. A .500 record in the SEC is marginal in most years, and it wasn’t the strongest year for the SEC. 13 losses are a lot to overcome.
  • Road woes. Georgia’s best wins all came at home, and the road wasn’t particularly kind. Georgia won just four games outside the state this year: Oakland, Eastern Washington, UAB, and Kentucky. Road losses included Detroit and Ole Miss.
  • How many SEC teams get in? In most seasons you could feel pretty comfortable in the SEC earning seven bids. But it hasn’t been the best of seasons for the conference. Tennessee and LSU have a combined 20 losses. Auburn and Vanderbilt had strong seasons, but the SEC didn’t do much to flex its muscle nationally this year. Five bids are solid: Auburn, Vandy, LSU, Florida, and Tennessee. Mississippi State finished sixth in the regular season, had an 8-6 regular season SEC record, and were a fairly benign 22-9 overall. Though Georgia defeated Mississippi State during the regular season, it’s hard to see how the other Bulldogs wouldn’t get the overall nod if it came down to those two teams for the SEC’s sixth and final bid.

If the Lady Dogs do earn a bid, they’ll be playing in Duluth on Saturday at the Gwinnett Arena with a potential second round game at the same location on Monday evening.

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