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Post Diamond Dawgs will have work to do in Hoover

Monday May 16, 2011

First, the good news: Georgia’s 7-6 win at Kentucky on Sunday clinched the Bulldogs a place in this year’s SEC Tournament. That’s a step forward from last year when Georgia finished dead last in the league. In fact, with a good weekend, Georgia could finish as high as 4th in the standings and earn the #5 seed in the SEC Tournament. Now the bad news: Georgia dropped two out of three in Lexington and put their chances of playing beyond the SEC Tournament in jeopardy.

With an overall record right at .500 (26-26), the Diamond Dawgs might seem like a longshot for the postseason anyway. But with an RPI of 25 and the nation’s toughest schedule, the Diamond Dawgs actually still stand a good chance of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The only catch? At-large teams must have a winning record, and Georgia’s current .500 mark might be the biggest obstacle they’ll face in earning that postseason bid.

Unless the team can win the conference tournament and earn the SEC’s automatic bid, here’s what they’re facing:

  • Unless they win the SEC Tournament, Georgia would be assured of picking up two additional losses in the tournament’s double-elimination format. Disaster would be the “0-2 and barbecue” scenario that would give Georgia those two losses without anything in the win column. Wins in Hoover are required, and how many are required depends on how things go this week.
  • The final nonconference game of the regular season is Tuesday night against Kennesaw. Needless to say, this is a must-win. That’s because…
  • The final conference series of the year will bring Vanderbilt to Athens. Vandy is a top five club that’s ranked as high as #1 depending on the poll. A sweep of the Commodores would remove any doubt about Georgia’s overall record, but that’s not likely. A sweep at the hands of the Commodores would all but make an SEC Tournament championship Georgia’s only ticket into the postseason. Any kind of split with the Commodores muddies the waters.

A win over Kennesaw and 2 out of 3 against Vandy – a 3-1 mark for the week – would move Georgia to 29-27. Georgia would just need one win in Hoover to remain over .500. A 2-2 record this week though means that the Diamond Dawgs would have to win at least three games in Hoover to guarantee a winning overall record. You see there the importance of the Kennesaw game. Georgia has theoretical life if they beat the Owls and can take at least one game from the visiting Commodores. Even that will be tough as Vandy has plenty to play for themselves.

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