One of the more surprising occurrences in the SEC this season was the performance of Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs, especially in the aftermath of their 6-6 run through non-conference play. Picked to finish 11th in the conference’s preseason poll, the Bulldogs won 12 SEC games and managed to finish in a tie with Kentucky for second place.
While that didn’t result in an NCAA tournament berth, as their performance outside of the league kept Georgia off the bubble, it did help build optimism regarding the status of the program.
Wednesday afternoon the school announced that Fox has been given a two-year contract extension through the 2017-18 season, and with the Bulldogs losing just one starter there’s optimism that Georgia can take another step forward in 2014-15.
“From Day One, we have worked to establish basketball success within the SEC, academic success in the graduation of our players and developing a culture where we remain consistently successful,” Fox said in the release. “As we move forward and continue to recruit and develop young men who can compete for championships, this is a great step to aid in the process.”
6-foot-9 forward Donte’ Williams, who averaged 4.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season, is the lone starter departing with guards Charles Mann (13.9 ppg) and Kenny Gaines (13.0 ppg) being the team’s leading returning scorers. Georgia’s top five scorers from the 2013-14 season return, and of those five only forwards Nemanja Djurisic and Marcus Thornton will be seniors in 2014-15.
Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.
Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
- Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
- Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
- Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
- No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
- No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.