The past week witnessed a negative turn of events for Georgia’s men’s basketball team. A group that was set to bring four returning starters onto the court now has only three.
Georgia endured a very bipolar kind of season in 2013 and 2014, so the way the Bulldogs perform in this next season is going to be thrown into question. Georgia will probably have another wild ride, but will the ride end in a positive or a negative way.
What Does This Mean For Georgia?
The arrest and then dismissal of forward Brandon Morris from the Georgia roster removes a valuable role player from the picture. Morris averaged 8.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season. Morris was probably expected to improve those averages a few notches this season. If a team is missing a 10-and-5 player from its regular rotation, that’s a noticeable hit. It’s not a huge hit the way SMU has been damaged by losing Emmanuel Mudiay, but not having Morris is probably going to affect Georgia to a certain degree at some point. If one player fouls out, Morris can’t play extra minutes. If another player gets injured early in the season, Morris won’t be there to fill in the gap on a nightly basis before reinforcements can arrive. One also has to realize that Morris was an experienced player. Losing a measure of experience likely means that underclassmen will have to be pressed into longer service earlier in the season.
All in all, Georgia started the 2013-2014 season in a terrible way. The Bulldogs were chewed up in November and December before they started to play well during the Southeastern Conference season. Georgia could have been an NCAA tournament team had it avoided a number of really bad losses early in the season. Starting slow is what cost the Bulldogs, who finished the season well and became a number two seed in the NIT. With Morris being out, that same kind of pattern in which Georgia stumbles out of the gate but then learns how to play together in the SEC season is a very realistic prediction for 2014-2015.
What Does This Mean For Other Teams In The SEC?
Georgia finished third in the SEC last season, something that caught a lot of pundits off guard. The Bulldogs were so bad in November and December that a resurgence wasn’t expected. In addition to Georgia’s bad start, other teams such as Missouri, Ole Miss, and LSU were expected to be a lot better during the regular season than they actually turned out to be. Georgia finishing third was a great achievement. With the Bulldogs losing one cog in their larger machinery, though, those other teams in the SEC after Kentucky and Florida should now have a better chance of beating Georgia during the season and finishing in that upper section of the conference. Georgia might still have enough depth to finish in the upper half of the 14-team SEC, but other teams in the league can now get the highest position after Kentucky (expected to be first in the conference next season) and Florida (expected to be second in the SEC in 2015).
Missouri, Tennessee and Auburn have first-year coaches. A lot of transitions have occurred in this conference during the offseason. Weaknesses on the part of some teams could very easily be exploited by others.
How To Bet The News
It’s much easier to bet that Georgia will finish lower than third place in the SEC next season. That becomes a more logical decision. If a team is going to replace the Bulldogs in third, Tennessee is a good choice right now. Arkansas might also have a chance to move up the list in the SEC. Auburn will be very good under Bruce Pearl in the future but probably not in Pearl’s first season, which is a total rebuilding project.
The Bulldogs are at 200/1 to win the NCAA Championship while Tennessee and Arkansas sit at 100/1 while Auburn is at 500/1.