As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 21-11 (11-7 SEC)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 107.0 (74th)/93.9 (28th)
Seed: East No. 7
Impact player: Marcus Thornton, senior, forward. 12.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 106.8 offensive rating
The Case For: Georgia’s defense can give good teams real trouble. The Dawgs boast a top-30 defense in both adjusted defensive efficiency (No. 28) and effective field goal percentage allowed (19), per kenpom.com. Behind Thornton, the team’s leading rebounder and a first-team All-SEC defensive team selection, Georgia also finished as the SEC’s top team in defensive rebounding at 27.4 boards per game. That defense nearly handed Kentucky its first loss of the season on March 3. The Wildcats shot 39.7% from the field and had to rally from nine points down to survive Athens, 72-64.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s offense is one of the more balanced in the SEC. Five players average between 12.2 and 10 points per game. Thornton, senior forward Nemanja Djurisic and junior guard Charles Mann are among the Bulldogs who can put up 15-20 points on any given night, so an undisciplined defense might have to pick its poison if it draws this team in the bracket.
The Case Against: Georgia can play like one of the best teams in the SEC, but it can also play down to its opponents. The program needed three overtimes to escape Mercer at home in December, and it lost to Auburn and South Carolina in Athens in consecutive contests in February. The Dawgs’ tournament luck might depend on which team shows up: The one that lost to the Gamecocks twice this year, or the one that almost toppled Kentucky?
The Bulldogs health also might not bode well for a tourney run. Injuries have plagued this roster’s depth for much of this season thanks to missed games by the likes of guard Juwan Parker (Achilles) and forward Kenny Paul Geno (wrist). The injury bug got so bad that coach Mark Fox even reached out to football coach Mark Richt for advice. Bulldogs’ assistant coaches even suited up and hit the practice floor. Georgia seems healthier now, but it might struggle to maintain a rotation during a tournament grind.
SI prediction: Lose to Michigan State in the Round of 64