USA TODAY Sports
Today we kick off a seven-part series by examining just how close our Yellow Jackets were to going to the Big Dance.
As you may or may not be aware, this week is Spring Break on the campus of Georgia Tech, meaning most of the campus (myself included) will be making its annual pilgrimage to the Florida panhandle to do "college things." I don't want to leave you guys bored at work without any content for the week, so I've put together a series of articles discussing issues relevant to our sports programs, hopefully sparking discussions on how we perceive our teams and programs relative to what they actually are. Enjoy!
Speculation #1 -- This year's basketball team was 4 regular season wins and 1 ACC Tournament win away from an NCAA Tournament berth…and that's not as hard to imagine happening as it sounds.
If you're the type of person who pays attention to long-term trends in individuals, you'll probably have noticed by now that when it comes to Tech sports, I'm the dangerously optimistic type -- the type that gets his hopes up to the point that they're highly unlikely to be met and highly probable to end in disappointment. But please bear with me here for a second, because this isn't the wildest of concepts to get behind.
This year, Tech's basketball team lost five ACC games by 5 points or less…the most recent being against Boston College on the road, when they fell victim to BC scoring 12 straight in the final four minutes and winning by 2. How crazy is it to think that we could have won that game? That's a couple of missed shots, a few free throws, anything, to make up a small margin. Now consider that we were within a slim five point margin in 5 losing efforts, and it's very feasible that we could have won 4 of them if just a few possessions had gone differently. Heck, we didn't even need all 4 of them to be in-conference -- we could've used a win against Cal or Illinois (both of whom should be Dancing come Sunday) early on as a big boost and only needed 2-3 more conference wins.
Hopefully you haven't written me off as delusional yet, because I want to continue making my case. Should we have gotten 3 more conference wins, all else equal, that puts us in the 6-seed position, playing against 11-seed Clemson in the opening round of the tournament. As much as the BC game was winnable, and it was, this would have been a pretty tough loss for Tech fans to swallow if we were unable to bring home the victory for the third consecutive time against Clemson (the first two being decided by 3 points each). Find a way to win that game, and we're playing against 3-seed North Carolina, and my speculations will end there to preserve what minimal legitimacy .
In the above scenario, we add 4 regular season wins, add 1 postseason win, and take away 4 regular season losses. From 16-15 (our current record), our new record would be 21-11, with a resume that includes wins over Miami and Virginia and a very tough SOS altogether. Coming from the ACC, I'd have to think that a 21-11 record puts us in very strong contention for an NCAA Tournament berth, and likely earns it.
Speculation like this has such limited validity, considering we're talking about changing the outcomes of a few isolated events across a span of months without those changed outcomes having any effect on other outcomes across that span. Still though, I don't think that it's all that farfetched to think that this team could have relatively easily won 5 more games and been a contender for or contestant in the Big Dance. But this isn't all about what I think, it's about what you think. Am I onto something here, or should I pass you some of what I'm drinking?