Here's my advance story for Georgia's NCAA tournament appearance today.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - By the time the Georgia men’s basketball team took the court here on Thursday night for its public practice, there were a little more than a couple dozen people still in the stands. They ended up being witness to a laid-back scene.
Players shot free throws and jumpers, not half-court shots and dunk contests, as previous teams had in Thursday’s shoot-arounds. Head coach Mark Fox spent a lot of time talking with CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg, who will call Friday’s NCAA tournament opener between Georgia and Washington.
“I feel like we’re going to be a pressure-free team (Friday),” star forward Trey Thompkins said. “I feel like we’re gonna go out and just play basketball, and play the way we know how to play.”
But because I care, here's more:
Georgia and Washington have never actually met in men's basketball, and they're obviously strangers to each other, what with being located on opposite coasts. So here's a comparison of each team, some of it on the court, some of it off.
Advantage: Washington. But how much? So far in the NCAAs (including the play-in round) the higher-ranked team has gone 14-6. The exceptions were Richmond over Vanderbilt, Morehead State over Vanderbilt, Butler over Old Dominion, Kansas State over Utah State, Gonzaga over St. John’s and Clemson over UAB.
Ken Pomeroy computer rankings
Advantage: Washington. And through Thursday the higher-ranked Kenpom team has also gone 14-6. (The differences from RPI: VCU was lower-ranked than USC, but Gonzaga was higher-ranked than St. John’s.)
Georgia: 68.8 points per game, (169th in the nation)
Washington: 83.5 (third in the nation)
Advantage: Washington, which also has a better field goal percentage (47.1 to 45.1) and 3-point percentage (37.1 to 34), and is turning it over less (12.4 turnovers per game to 13.4).
Georgia: 64.3 points allowed per game (75th in nation), 6.5 steals, 5.0 blocks, turnover margin of minus-1.2.
Washington: 70.4 (243rd in nation), 6.7 steals,5.3 blocks, turnover margin of plus-2.6.
Advantage: A wash. Georgia is also allowing its opponents less rebounds per game (33.0 to 34.7), but the turnover margin sticks out.
Best former player
Georgia: Dominique Wilkins
Washington: Brandon Roy
Advantage: Georgia, by a mile. (The Huskies also boast Nate Robinson, Detlef Schrempf, Rod Thorn and current head coach Lorenzo Romar.)
Other notable alumni
Georgia: Kim Basinger, Lewis Grizzard, Wayne Knight, everybody from R.E.M., Ryan Seacret, Fran Tarkenton, Herschel Walker.
Washington: Kenny G, Bruce Lee, Anna Faris, Rainn Wilson, Tim Lincecum, Warren Moon.
Advantage: Georgia. Washington gets points for Lee, Faris, and Dwight from “The Office,” but Kenny G, man that’s hard to overcome.
Advantage: I suppose it depends on whether you like the laid-back small town or the laid-back big town. But I’ve never been to Seattle, and I really like living in Athens, so advantage: Georgia.