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February 9, 2010

History in the Making?

Since I started this blog last April, it has primarily been concerned with UGA football and not much else.  In fact, now that I think about it, this is my first non-football related post. Thus, the subject matter must be "newsworthy."

As I watched the roundball Dawgs defeat 18th-ranked Vanderbilt Saturday night (Photo of Chris Barnes by David Manning) and improve to 3-2 this season against AP-ranked opponents (second-best in SEC), I speculated Georgia might be on a historical run of sorts.  So, I grabbed this year's edition of the basketball media guide and... couldn't find anything in its pages to prove me right or wrong. 

Whereas UGA's football guide proudly displays the program's results versus ranked opposition, spanning three pages, something similar is nowhere to be found in the basketball guide.  

I believe I know the reason for the omission. 

I conducted a little research and found, since the AP Poll began in college basketball in 1949, Georgia's record against ranked foes is a dismal 60-218 (21.6 percent), including 0-27 versus No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams, to date.

Georgia's "on-court" record against the ranked is 68-218.  Because of NCAA sanctions, the Dogs had to vacate 30 wins, including eight versus ranked teams, from the 2002 and 2003 seasons. 

For a comparison, the Bulldogs' all-time record against AP-ranked opponents in football is an admirable 85-115-8 (42.8 percent), including 28-19 under Coach Richt, through the '09 season.

The following is Georgia basketball's record versus ranked teams by head coach (After each coach's record versus ranked teams, in parenthesis, is the average scoring margin in those games and the coach's highest-ranking victory):

        1949: Ralph Jordan       0-2 (-42.5, n/a)
1950-1951: Jim Whatley        1-3 (-28.0, #5 Kentucky in 1950)
1952-1965: Harbin Lawson  1-26 (-25.1, #13 North Carolina in 1964)
1966-1973: Ken Rosemond  4-26 (-9.3, #5 Tennessee in 1968)
1974-1978: John Guthrie     2-22 (-14.4, #7 Tennessee in 1977 and #7 Louisville in 1977)
1979-1995: Hugh Durham    27-72 (-5.8, #3 LSU in 1981 and #3 St. John's in 1983)
1996-1997: Tubby Smith       6-7 (-2.6, #4 South Carolina in 1997)
1998-1999: Ron Jirsa           3-13 (-5.1, #12 Ole Miss and #12 Arkansas in 1998)
2000-2003: Jim Harrick*      7-20 (-7.4, #6 Tennessee in 2001)
2004-2009: Dennis Felton    6-25 (-9.0, #3 Georgia Tech in 2004) 
        2009: Pete Herrmann   0-0
        2010: Mark Fox              3-2 (+4.8, #8 Tennessee in 2010)

*Harrick's "on-court" record versus the ranked was 15-20 with a scoring margin of -3.8 and included victories over #2 Florida in 2002 and #2 Pittsburgh a season later. 

No one has ever said the University of Georgia is a basketball school, nor will anyone likely indicate as much after taking a look at those lowly records above.  The basketball program, besides Ole Miss, is probably the worst historically of the 12 current teams in the SEC.  

Success has been unachievable even more so in recent years as the Bulldogs haven't been ranked in the weekly AP Poll since March 2003.  In the conference, only Auburn (2000) hasn't been ranked more recently.

Nevertheless, despite Georgia's current losing record (10-11 overall, 2-6 SEC), this year's squad is entertaining to watch and its future certainly appears bright.  Some in the media even believe Coach Fox should be considered for SEC Coach of the Year honors for his and the team's efforts. 

Those efforts include losing by eight points or less in five of the Bulldogs' six conference losses and seated 89th in the current RPI rankings—the highest ranking of all Division I teams with a losing record and good enough for eighth best in the SEC, ahead of Alabama and Arkansas (both have winning records).  Most impressively, Georgia's three victories over ranked teams, as Ching points out, are as many as it won the previous five seasons combined. 

Since 1949, the Bulldogs have won three or more games against ranked teams, including this year, in only 10 seasons, have finished a season with a winning record against the ranked only four times (1965, 1979, 1983, 2001), and have never finished a year with a higher winning percentage than their current 60 percent (the 1979 team also went 3-2) against ranked foes.

Fox and his Bulldogs have done a commendable job this season; however, they still must face three opponents in their final eight regular-season games who are ranked in the most recent AP Poll.  It appears Georgia should have at least a couple more opportunities to better or, God forbid, worsen their current 3-2 mark.

As they enter the final month of the regular season, let's hope the Dawgs can continue to exceed expectations and upset a few more elite teams as they continue a possible, historical run for Georgia basketball.


Anonymous said...

At Tennessee, at Vandy and Kentucky at home are the top 25 teams left on the schedule. Considering we have yet to win a true road game and UK is ranked #2 in the country, it will be a tall task to win any of those. That said, I agree that this team is growing by leaps and bounds. Mark Fox is the best thing to happen to UGA hoops in a long, long time. He has an excellent staff supporting him as well.

Patrick Garbin said...

Thanks for the comments, Anon. I agree. It's going to be extremely difficult to win any of the three games you mentioned. I think this team is capable of going 5-3 down the stretch, which would mean winning at least one, probably two games on the road. If they could then win a game in the SEC Tourney, they'd probably head to the NIT, which was an unimaginable possibility in the preseason. One of those wins MUST come tonight with an upset at Auburn, where we're a 4-point underdog.