It's that time of year when I present to you the odds of Georgia's state college basketball programs making the NCAA tournament, give or take a Sasquatch sighting. I've listed seven schools in order of RPI, where Georgia Tech now ranks ahead of Georgia (and that might be the greatest indictment of all of the Bulldogs' season).
Oh dear. Are we headed for another state 0-fer?
• Georgia Tech: 70 RPI (out of 351) , 15-12 overall 5-9 in ACC (12th place). The Jackets stunned No. 19 Notre Dame the other night, just as they stunned No. 4 Virginia last month and nearly stunned Louisville and a couple of other ranked opponent. Impressive. But in the big picture I'm not sure that changes much. Barring an unlikely series of upsets in the ACC tournament, Tech isn't going to make the NCAA field and it would be an upset if an NIT bid saves his job. Gregory's two-year buyout ($1,343,750) is more palatable than it would have been after last season ($2,418,750). The Georgia Tech Athletic Association also is projecting a surplus of $750,000 for the fiscal year after an original projection of break-even, via our Ken Sugiura . So theoretically, things aren't quite as tight at Tech as they used to be. Tournament odds: 7 billion-1
• Georgia: 80 RPI, 14-11 overall, 7-7 in SEC (ninth place). The Bulldogs had a decent chance at a tournament bid with a solid finish until losing its last two games to Florida and Vanderbilt. They have only one win over a ranked team on their resume (69-56 over South Carolina). At this point, even sweeping their final four regular season games (Auburn, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Alabama) wouldn't ensure them of a tournament bid, although the wins over South Carolina and Alabama would look good on their resume going into the SEC tournament. The SEC ranks only sixth in conference RPI (behind the Big 12, Pacific 12, ACC, Big East and Big Ten). CBS Sports' Jerry Palm projects the SEC to get five schools in (which seems high to me), currently listing Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Texas A&M. The Dogs need a strong finish. Very strong. A poor finish and it will be interesting to see if athletic director Greg McGarity makes a move with coach Mark Fox. Tournament odds: 40-1.
• Mercer: 169 RPI, 18-11 overall, 8-8 in Southern (fifth place): Coach Bob Hoffman went 78-32 in Mercer's final three seasons in the Atlantic Sun Conference but things have been tougher in the Southern, which includes UT Chattanooga, Furman, Wofford and East Tennessee State. The Bears were having a nice season until losing five straight -- four to teams ahead of them in the standings, one that is tied with them. So the pecking order is clear. No team is likely to upset Chattanooga (24-5) in the conference tournament. Tournament odds: 500-1.
• Georgia State: 172 RPI, 14-11 overall, 7-9 in Sun Belt (sixth place): This season was expected to be a challenge with R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow gone. It has been. The Panthers were looking good in mid-January (12-4, 5-2) but they're 2-7 since. The final four regular-season games don't really matter. State would need to go on an unlikely run in the Sun Belt tournament, including a huge upset of Arkansas Little Rock (24-3). I would say that will never happen, but after seeing the football team make it to a bowl game "never" is off the table. Tournament odds: 150-1.
• Georgia Southern: 235 RPI, 12-14 overall, 8-8 in Sun Belt (fifth place): Last season the NCAA tournament bid came down to the conference tournament final between the Eagles and the Panthers. This year, it may decide fifth place in the regular season. Tournament odds: 150-1.
• Kennesaw State: 271 RPI, 10-19 overall, 6-7 in Atlantic Sun (sixth place): Kennesaw State fired interim basketball coach Jimmy Lallathin after going 10-22 and his replacement, Al Skinner, isn't doing a whole lot better, although significant improvement should not have been expected so soon. Skinner was a respected long-time coach at Boston College until 2010. He took an assistants job at small Bryant College in Rhode Island in 2013 before getting the KSU job. His Owls recently won three straight. I'm sure nobody noticed, but it's something. Skinner is 63 so don't expect this to be long term. Tournament odds: 500-to-1 (it's a weak conference).
• Savannah State: 293 RPI, 11-13 overall, 7-6 in MEAC (fifth place): The Tigers have won four straight and recently upset potential conference champion South Carolina State. So I think it's clear where the state of Georgia's tournament hopes rest. Or not. Tournament odds: 300-1.
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