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Kaltefleiter: Do Bulldogs have enough left in reserve?.


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Georgia left behind its triangular trophy, the souvenir basketball and the nets it swiped from Georgia Tech's arena this past Sunday.

The Bulldogs didn't need the trinkets left over from their SEC championship as they headed to Washington, D.C. to start today's NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs are back where they were a week ago today: A long shot in a pond full of them. The only thing different is that they don't look so slimy anymore.

A championship has that cleansing effect on teams, especially ones that prove everybody - and I mean everybody - wrong. Still, the convincing starts all over again at about 12:20 p.m. when Georgia christens its first NCAA appearance since 2002 against Xavier.

As well as Georgia played this past weekend, there remains a cloud of uncertainty for the Bulldogs as they start the next phase of this season.

How much will playing four games in four days, including two Saturday, affect them against Xavier? Will forward Terrance Woodbury maintain his hot perimeter shooting? Will Billy Humphrey make foul shooting look as easy as making a phone call? Will Albert Jackson continue to impersonate Karl Malone?

No one knows for sure, not even the players.

But at least they have the opportunity, and its on college basketball's grandest stage. Those in the NIT field can't say the same thing.

Georgia does have something going in its favor, other than the fact that Georgetown, the team whose homecourt on which they'll be playing, has a mascot that resembles a bulldog.

March Madness started for Georgia the instant Dave Bliss' shot caromed off the glass and plopped through the net at the overtime buzzer to beat Ole Miss a week ago.

Once Georgia made it past Thursday, the chaos didn't subside until Humphrey sank his final free throw to clinch the win over Arkansas about 41 hours later.

That type of pressure-filled experience is invaluable in the NCAAs. Xavier might have a lineup as tough as Charles Bronson - who is coincidentally also a reserve forward for the Musketeers - but it hasn't played an overtime game this season. If it's tight in the final minutes, Georgia's recent show of resolve could be the difference.

Yet here's one of the primary questions: Does Georgia have enough magic left to make it reach that point of critical mass? The simple answer is fuhgetaboutit. The simple answer doesn't apply to this bunch now.

A week ago today, Georgia was at the bottom looking up. The Bulldogs had dwindled to eight available scholarship players and walk-on Corey Butler. Dennis Felton's job was in limbo. An F-2 tornado tiptoeing through downtown Atlanta sounded more logical than the Bulldogs winning the SEC Tournament.

Just when we had Georgia figured out, the Bulldogs made us look like fools.

Peruse the history of the NCAA Tournament, specifically after the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and you'll notice that No. 14 seeds haven't fared too well against No. 3s. The No. 14 seeds' record against No. 3s is 13-71 in the last 20 tournaments, and only once, in 1995, has a pair of No. 14s upset No. 3s since 1987.

Even so, it's hard to "sleep" on this team, as Humphrey put it, after its performance from this past weekend.

Rest assured, Xavier won't be impressed.

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