Georgia basketball: a “rags to riches” story
By Greg Sullivan
Anyone who thought they'd seen it all going into the past weekend would have lost at least a good chunk of their piece of mind if they paid any attention to the SEC basketball tournament.
Along with teams like Auburn and South Carolina, Georgia looked at times during the regular season like they belonged to the Southern Conference, as the SEC's powerhouses made a habit of picking them apart all year. This weekend, if nothing else, proved why, no matter how big the mismatch, the games must be played.
Rumors of coaching changes had swirled nearly as fast around the Dogs' program as the winds that blew through downtown Atlanta Friday night, but just as the Georgia Dome's roof ripped open in the storm, so did any chances that Dennis Felton would be forced out of the Classic City against his will following the season.
Georgia, which entered the weekend tournament with the lowest seeding in their half of the league, battled past four more-heralded teams; Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Arkansas, respectively, to win the conference and clinch an automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
And the team that probably made the folks at Jefferson Pilot squirm when TV contracts forced them to pick up an occasional game during the regular season, actually drew people to their televisions. If, for no other reason, because the storm forced the tourney to relocate to Georgia Tech's gym where the conference wouldn't let the general public attend the game due to its lower capacity.
Georgia wasn’t the only spoiler over the weekend. Arkansas’ victory over mighty Tennessee in the tournament semifinal was also pretty impressive as they set up the championship of spoilers showdown.
Beyond this, though, the tournament was as strange as they come. Not only did the storms force the surviving teams to relocate down the road on Tech’s campus, but it also required Georgia to play two games in one day, something the program hadn’t experienced since the 1930s.
Defying logic with their season continuing, Georgia plays Xavier in Washington, D.C. today. While he's up there: Felton for President? How about this? If Georgia beats Xavier: Felton for President. We’ll see.
Georgia's got their work cut out for them in the tournament, after all, they are only a 14-seed.
Still, the team is getting used to low seedings, and, of course, no realist would have expected them to get this far. Even if they lose by 50 points today, no fan should be disappointed. I am expecting them to play well, though, no matter who they're playing. Why not?