We are halfway to setting the roster for the NCAA tournament elite eight. Tonight's theme: power matchups. For the most part, Cinderella has left the building. Number one seed North Carolina will take on four seed Butler at 7:09 PM on CBS. If, like me, you picked the Tar Heels to win it all this may be the point at which you were bracket either lives or dies.
That one is followed up by a 7:29 match up on TBS between South Carolina and three seed Baylor. It will be interesting to see if the Gamecocks come out flat following their surprising upset of Duke to reach this point. To me South Carolina has to be the most surprising team remaining in the tournament. But that's just because I watched them play basketball during the regular season.
At 9:39 PM on CBS we get a contest between two of college basketball's perennial powers, as number two seed Kentucky takes on 3 seed UCLA. Thank God we're not going to have to hear about the Ball kids, am I right?
The nightcap over on TBS features for seed Florida versus eight seed Wisconsin. I hate Florida. I don't hate that there are three SEC teams remaining in the tournament. But I hate Florida. Wisconsin is the lowest seeded school remaining in the bracket, which seems surprising given the Badgers’ penchant for outperforming in March. Still, I'm picking the Gators to win this one, even though I really, really don't want to.
The Madness continues tonight as the NCAA Tournament moves into the Sweet 16.
Michigan and Oregon will get things started at 7:09 PM on CBS. The over/under on Jim Harbaugh a references? Doesn't matter, take the over. And the Ducks, take the Ducks.
Gonzaga and West Virginia will tip off at 7:39 on TBS. I’m no expert on these things, but it seems to me that this is probably the last chance for “Gonzaga didn't deserve a #1 seed” guy to be proven right. After this, with Xavier being the only team from the bottom half of the bracket still alive, pretty much every team has a legitimate shot at everyone.
Kansas and Purdue will follow the Michigan/Oregon game at 9:39-ish on CBS, while Arizona and Xavier will finish things out with a 10:09 tip on TBS. all in all, it's another good night of basketball to taking out on the spring evening. We are glad you could make it.
For the second time in three seasons, junior wing Juwan Parker gutted out a torn achilles down the stretch of a season in hopes of helping push Georgia toward an NCAA Tournament appearance. Unfortunately this time, it didn’t end in the dance.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma native had his best season in red and black going from just under 5 pts and 3 rebounds per game as a freshman and sophomore to almost 10 pts and over 5 rebounds a night while starting 32 games this year. The injury caused him to sit out the season ending NIT opening round loss to Belmont, and considering the nature of achilles’ injuries casts doubts on his ability to return for a fifth and final season on the hardwood. Parker will already have a master’s degree from UGA even if he is unable to continue playing.
This opens up a significant need in the backcourt for Mark Fox when the spring signing period opens early next month. Even if Parker is willing and able to come back next year, the recovery makes it difficult to rely on him filling a similar role for a similar amount of games. E’Torrion Wilridge, Pape Diatta, and Jordan Harris return as options at small forward, but Parker also helped ball handling duties.
For the guard spots, there would be little more than Turtle Jackson (who has struggled to make an impact in two years so far), Tyree Crump (who looked much more a scorer than a PG in his freshman season), and incoming freshman TeShaun Hightower left behind without the rising senior in the mix. On a team with a frontcourt that should be more than capable of carrying a team to the tournament in Yante Maten, Derek Ogbeide, and Mike Edwards, while adding a top 50 national recruit in Rayshaun Hammonds, the perimeter options will need to be able to hold their own to avoid the disappointments of the previous two seasons.
Georgia started spring practice yesterday, and a few notes came out about what the team will be working on over the next month worth of time on the field. One of those working is soon to be transfer QB Brice Ramsey, staying sharp and helping with the limited number of passers around at the moment.
One thing they won’t be working on offensively this spring is a new playbook. For the first time in the career of much of the offense, they won’t have a new offensive coordinator with Jim Chaney back around for his second season following the disastrous single Schottenheimer season. That familiarity should not only help with the timing of sophomore QB Jacob Eason and his receivers, but also allow Chaney to expand his play calling and utilize special talents like Sony Michel and Mecole Hardman in dangerous spots with the ball in their hands.
Stability won’t be the name of the game up front offensively, as Sam Pittman experiments to replace three starters on the line. Lamont Gaillard, as expected, slid over to center for day one, with Isaiah Wynn getting the initial look at LT, and veteran Dyshon Sims at LG. The right side had senior Aulden Bynum trying to hold off JUCO D’Marcus Hayes at tackle while redshirt freshmen Solomon Kindley and Ben Cleveland were getting work at guard. Others will get work before even one of the more hyped classes of high school OL UGA has brought in arrive on campus in the summer.
Defensively, mum was the word on Tracy Rocker with plenty of praise for his replacement, Tray Scott, at DL coach as one would expect for the new hire. And staying in the trenches, Trenton Thompson is making progress and still around the team despite having to take the semester off of school to focus on his health.
And Riley Ridley is looking at internal discipline and one game suspension for his transgressions.
2017-03-21T15:20:01-04:00We’re entering the last month or so of spring semester, so while a couple seasons are reaching mid way, several others are winding down their years. Georgia has a lot of athletic fronts it competes upon, so let’s get to them. GYMNASTICS As you may have seen, the GymDawgs went down to Florida (Jacksonville, to be precise) for the SEC Championships, finished fourth, and as a punishment are forced to return to Florida (Gainesville this time). Making it to the Super Six is the hope, and our path goes through (or around) the Gators. GOLF If you want to know how the former Dawgs are doing on the PGA Tour, just ask ol’ GlimmerTwin. As for the current GreenDawgs, the men are in Greenesboro for the Linger Longer where senior Greyson Sigg entered the day sitting in first place. The team sat sixth though coming in to today, after finishing seventh at the Southern Intercollegiate last week. The women didn’t have much better luck in Los Angeles. SWIMMING AND DIVING It’s been nearly a decade since Jack Bauerle’s Lady WaterDawgs weren’t among the five best teams in the country when a season was said and done. That didn’t change last weekend when they came in fourth at the NCAA Championships for the team’s ninth consecutive top five finish. The men will be in Indianapolis themselves for their NCAA Championships starting tomorrow. Ten will be in the pool, hoping for nine out of ten finishes in the top 10 after coming in fifth last season. TRACK AND FIELD It’s always nice to win at Georgia Tech, and 14 Dawgs won at the Yellow Jacket Invitational to open their outdoor season Friday. TENNIS The men took down Tennessee to improve to 5-0 in SEC matches after a Friday defeat at the hands of top ranked Wake Forest. They’ll host LSU and Alabama this weekend. The ladies meanwhile, they did some nice things. The weekend ended with a 4-0 stomping of South Carolina on the road, and started with just 4-1 win over top ranked Florida, in Florida. That last part is the important bit, as it snapped a Lady Gator run of .... (with a tip of the hat to our old friend, NCT) 163 consecutive home wins (since 2004); 159 consecutive regular-season home wins (since a 2002 loss to UGA); 97 consecutive home SEC wins (since the 2002 loss to UGA); 17 consecutive regular-season SEC wins; 26 consecutive regular-season wins. They are now 205-2 all-time at home against SEC opponents. Both losses were to Georgia. SOFTBALL The Lady Diamond Dawgs took the rubber match with top 20 Kentucky last night on the SEC Network 3-1. Now 26-4, they’ll head to LSU this weekend for a series with the Tigers complete with current SEC Player of the Week in sophomore SS Lacey Sumerlin and a pair of elite table setters at the top of the order hoping to improve upon their current 2-1 SEC record. BASEBALL It wasn’t a good week for the Diamond Dawgs, getting swept in their SEC opening series at LSU, after a mid week pairing that included an 8-7 win over Presbyterian College and an extra innings home loss to Mercer. A 5 p.m. start with Kennesaw St, at Kennesaw St, is on tap for today before Scott Stricklin’s pups host Auburn at Foley Field this weekend. EQUESTRIAN The HorseDawgs travel to Auburn and the SEC Championships Friday, where they take on South Carolina at 2:30. Depending on the results of the semifinals, they take on either Texas A&M or the host school, Auburn, on Saturday. The National Championships will be at Baylor in Waco, Texas next month. And as always, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DAWGS! [...]
2017-03-20T17:39:25-04:00I hate Florida. The NCAA announced pairings for the regional competitions today, and as I expected, the Gym Dogs got unlucky, getting placed into possibly the worst regional matchup available for us this season. The Georgia gymnastics team, by virtue of the fact that we got jumped by two teams in the rankings on literally the last possible day of the season, fell to #10, which means that we got paired with the #3-ranked team. That team is Florida. And since Gainesville, FL, was a pre-selected regional site in 2017, that means that for the second time this season, the Gym Dogs will face off against the Gym Gators in the O’Connell Center. Not only that, however, but the #3 and #10 teams usually get paired with the #15 team in the rankings... which this season is Missouri. So, if you’re keeping track at home, not only do we have to go back to Gainesville and compete against Florida again, but we also have to face off against Mizzou, too. So half of our regional will be made up of teams from the SEC, the strongest gymnastics conference in the country. This will not be an easy task. Here is the full list of teams that will be participating in the Gainesville Regional, with their rankings listed in parentheses. The top two teams from this meet will advance to the NCAA national meet in St. Louis. Florida (3) Georgia (10) Missouri (15) New Hampshire (30) Penn State (33) North Carolina (35) Note that only the top 3 teams in each region are chosen according to their rankings. The next 3 teams chosen are apportioned to the region closest to them. This is why all of our final 3 opponents are very close to each other in terms of ranking. Let’s look at each team and their chances of advancing to the NCAA nationals. Florida Gators Postseason RQS - 197.635Season high - 197.975 Chances of getting to St. Louis: 90% Look, as much as I’d like for the Gators to humiliate themselves on their home mat and fail to advance to the national meet, it just ain’t gonna happen. (I hate Florida.) The lowest score Florida has put up all year was a late-season stumble at LSU, where they carded a 196.600. Every other score they’ve seen this season has been in the 197 range. It would take the choke of all chokes for Florida to screw up badly enough to finish out of the top 2. Though I’d love to see that, and that’s the result for which I’ll be rooting. (I hate Florida.) Georgia Gym Dogs Postseason RQS - 197.005Season high - 197.325 Chances of getting to St. Louis: 60% If the Gym Dogs show up and do their thing, they’ll very probably get through. If we can put together all 4 rotations at the same time in a way we haven’t yet done this year, we might even win the regional. But if we get the yips on beam (or on floor like we did at the SEC’s), then it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for a resurgent Missouri team to pip us for #2 spot in this meet. Mizzou isn’t some also-ran here, like you frequently see in regional meets. They’re a very real threat, and the Gym Dogs would do well to treat this meet just as seriously as they would the Super Six. Because if you don’t finish in the top 2 here, your season is over. Missouri Tigers Postseason RQS - 196.540Season high - 197.200 Chances of getting to St. Louis: 100% on their flight home, but about 50% in gymnastics The Tigers from the “good Columbia” suffered an injury to their best gymnast early in the season, and suffered under the weight of that missing hole in the lineup for several weeks. They bounced back strongly over the last month of the season, though, and both of their final two regular-season meets saw them reach scores in the 197’s. Beating Mizzou far from a given for the Gym Dogs, and for that matter, it’s also not a given for Florida if either team has a particularly “off night” and Mizzou cranks up another 197 score. The Tigers are officially hosting the national championships this year (though the m[...]
2017-03-20T12:30:02-04:00Spring practice gets underway tomorrow, but don’t expect it to be a time of information and updates on what the team will look like come fall. Pro Day was last week for NFL hopefuls, but aside from practice number 1 is tomorrow and the finale coming on April 22nd with G Day, we have no idea when practices will be. Because Georgia isn’t telling anyone. Yes, it seems a bit odd and with not much reason for withholding that information. But then there’s not a whole lot of reasons we need it either. It’s practice. Players aren’t that enthused about it, because there are no games to look forward to at the end of the week or opposing players to enjoy hitting someone else for a change when games are played. And unless someone gets significantly hurt, relevant news is pretty minimal if non-existent being so far away from the season, with so much time for 18-23 yr old young men to grow and develop or fall back. But that doesn’t mean stuff won’t get done, so with that in mind, let’s discuss a few of the things we won’t be learning before August or so. JACOB EASON The skinny QB isn’t as thin as he was on arrival with 12 months of college life, college food, and SEC workouts under his belt. But after a decent if nothing special season as a freshman, the signal caller from across the country looks to firmly make his mark on the program. Jake Fromm has arrived early from Warner Robins, and will push him as the only other scholarship QB on the roster. Fromm is said to be a gym rat type player, and born commander in the huddle, and will force Eason to improve or get passed eventually. But #10 will have a 12 month head start, and had about as good a freshman season as one could ask for if we’re wanting to place higher hopes on the newest newbie in town. Eason can now begin to work with his receivers, and settle in behind a hopefully improved offensive line, with veterans like Nick Chubb and Sony Michel joining him in the backfield for impact plays. The honeymoon is over for Jacob, and an SEC East title will be expected sooner rather than later. OFFENSIVE LINE As mentioned above, that offensive line needs to settle down in front of Eason, or Fromm for that matter, for the Georgia offense to start scoring the points needed to win big games. D’Marcus Hayes is already on campus, and looking towards solidifying the troublesome edges for us at one of the two OT spots. Isaiah Wynn and Lamont Gaillard return as starters, and Dyshon Sims joins them after gaining considerable experience. But we’ll need to replace Brandon Kublanow at C, arguably the most overlooked spot that is critical to an effective offense, as well as both OTs from last season. Even the returning starters have question marks positionally, as Gaillard may slide to C and handle the snaps, while Wynn could end up at LT, or LG, or RG, or maybe C. So Sam Pittman will have his work cut out for him in determining what players need to slot where, as he looks to work in Hayes, redshirt freshmen like Solomon Kindley and Ben Cleveland, and figure out where impact prep stars like Netori Johnson and Isaiah Wilson can be best used in their first few weeks this fall. But regardless of which quintet makes the cut up front, the offensive line simply has to do a better job next season both protecting the QB and opening lanes for running backs like Chubb and Michel if there are going to be silver britches on the field of Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 2nd. DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD Sure, there are concerns up front with Trenton Thompson’s health key among them. And a defensive backfield is usually about as good as the pass rushers in front of them, putting some onus on Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, Natrez Patrick, and others to get more pressure in opposing backfields. But this past signing class showed just how much of a priority it is for Kirby Smart to get better DB play on[...]
2017-03-19T04:14:47-04:00A bad first two rotations cost the Georgia gymnastics team a chance at seriously contending for the SEC championship on Saturday night. As evening fell along the banks of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, the Georgia Gym Dogs began their quest to win a 17th SEC gymnastics championship. Unfortunately, by the end of the first rotation, the Gym Dogs had ended that quest with their subpar performance, and by the end of the second rotation, all hope of seriously contending to finish better than 4th was gone, as well. It wasn’t a banner night for Danna’s Dawgs, and even though they metaphorically picked themselves up and soldiered on in the face of adversity, there’s no question that this was a disappointing night for every Gym Dog fan. Let’s get straight to the rotation-by-rotation recap: Rotation 1: Floor Exercise - 49.05 Morgan Reynolds - 9.85Vivi Babalis - 9.85Sabrina Vega - 9.675Sydney Snead - 9.725Rachel Dickson - 9.80Gigi Marino - 9.825 If you could have scripted a scenario titled, “How we definitely don’t want the meet to start,” it might have looked a lot like what transpired here. In general, it looked to me like most of our ladies were a little tense and nervous, and they were unable to channel that nervous energy into raising their performance... instead letting it hinder them from doing their usual excellent floor work. Morgan Reynolds and Vivi Babalis started off the night with relatively strong performances, but when Sabrina Vega uncharacteristically lost her landing and stepped out of bounds on her third pass, everything started going downhill. I believe it was the first time all season that Vega has stepped out of bounds, meaning that whatever score the judges gave her would automatically be reduced by one tenth. In addition, she got the usual deduction for an out-of-control landing on that pass (up to two tenths+, depending on the judge’s discretion), which means that Vega’s one major mistake cost her dearly. After Vega’s routine, Sydney Snead came up next and similarly made a couple of uncharacteristic flubs, most notably on the landing of her second pass, I believe. Then, in the fifth performance of the night, Rachel Dickson rolled her ankle as she landed her third pass. (Thankfully, she still managed to land the pass well, carding a 9.80 that was pretty reasonable, under the circumstances.) Dickson was slated to be our only all-around performer tonight, and her injury meant that she might not be able to compete at all for the rest of the night. That meant emergency substitutions in the lineup at the last minute, which is a nightmare. You never want a gymnast who wasn’t mentally prepared to compete to be called on at literally the last minute to perform on virtually any occasion, but certainly not in a major postseason competition. Gigi Marino wrapped up the floor rotation with another uncharacteristic mistake, as our most solid floor performer of the season also flubbed her third tumbling pass. When the dust settled, Danna’s Dawgs had only managed a 49.05 on their floor rotation... the worst floor score we’ve put up since the second meet of the season. With this team, in a tournament against multiple elite teams, even one rotation that’s not our best could mean that we’re out of contention. With a virtual disaster like this, however, our chances of winning the SEC championship were completely gone. Especially when you consider that floor should be one of our best events, and we had the opportunity to possibly even have a lead on everyone after the first rotation if we’d held to some of our better floor scores on the year. But no... we flubbed it, so the championship was gone. We still had a chance to bolster our RQS, however, by picking up the slack in the other 3 rotations and come up with a 197+ score, so there was still a major goal to compete for in th[...]