It’s that time of year again. Two TVs in the living room. Second laptop and an iPad also streaming games.

So much basketball!

The first 2 days of the NCAA Tournament are incredible. The third and fourth days of the NCAA Tournament are also great.

Even the First Four games were strong this year!

Enjoy the Madness, y’all!

Now let’s dive into your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:


How many SEC teams need to make it to the Sweet 16 for it to be a “successful” NCAA Tournament run?

The SEC got 8 teams into the NCAA Tournament (including Mississippi State, who was eliminated in the First Four). I’m writing this column on Thursday afternoon, so I’m not sure exactly how many of the 7 other SEC squads have advanced to the Round of 32.

I would say that we need to think bigger as a conference than the Sweet 16, though. Sure, having 5 teams make the Sweet 16 would be incredible, but it’s time for the SEC to have another Final Four team this year.

Auburn was the last SEC team to make the Final Four, back in 2019. Obviously there was no NCAA Tournament in 2020, so that means there have been 2 tourneys in a row without the SEC represented.

Can Alabama be that Final Four team? Can Kentucky or someone else go on a run? That’ll be the more important factor to determine a “successful” SEC season, in my opinion. Get 2 teams to the Elite Eight and 1 to the Final Four and we can call it a great SEC year.


With Georgia being eliminated from the SEC tournament and no NIT invitation, what changes would you make to improve Georgia basketball considering the resources and fertile recruiting area available to it?

I think you hit the nail on the head in your question. All you need to do is look to a Wednesday night NBA game to see what sort of talent the Atlanta area produces.

Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics put up 35 points on 12-of-24 shooting and 10 rebounds in a 104-102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. In the loss, Anthony Edwards had 28 points, 10 boards and 7 assists.

Tom Crean did get Edwards to play for Georgia for his 1 year of college basketball, but it didn’t make the Bulldogs a tournament team. Brown somehow got away from Atlanta and went all the way out to Cal for his 1 collegiate season.

For Mike White to turn Georgia around (and he showed signs of starting to do just that in 2022-23), it all starts in-state.

In the 2023 recruiting class, the state of Georgia has 3 5-star prospects: PG Isaiah Collier out of Marietta, PG Robert Dillingham out of Atlanta and G Stephon Castle out of Covington. None of them are committed to Georgia.

Collier, the No. 1 overall player in the 2023 class, per 247Sports, is heading out to USC. Dillingham is going to Kentucky and Castle has committed to UConn. That can’t happen moving forward if White’s tenure is going to be a success.

You have to go all the way to Georgia’s No. 8 prospect in the 2023 class to find a player committed to the in-state Bulldogs – 4-star F Mari Jordan.

For 2024, White needs to get a top-3 player from Georgia in his class and a second player from the top 10. Then he’ll be building something sustainable.


How much did Jalen Carter hurt his NFL Draft stock with his awful Pro Day? Did he fall out of the top 10?

That’s a good question, as he definitely didn’t impress on Wednesday during position drills. He looked out of shape and was gassed after nearly every rep.

But I’m also not a fan of reading too much into these workouts. No, it’s not a good sign that he didn’t show up and give his best performance at an event tailored to showcase players favorably.

However, just look at the game tape. Even on tape, there are plays where Carter looks like he isn’t giving his best effort. But when he’s at his best, he’s one of the best defensive linemen of the past few years.

If he’s still on the board at No. 9, when the Chicago Bears are picking after trading out of the No. 1 spot, I think that’s where Carter will ultimately end up. That’s still several million dollars he potentially cost himself at the NFL Combine and the Georgia Pro Day, though, as he likely could have gone as high as No. 3 overall to the Arizona Cardinals with a dominant showing.


If Tennessee and Kentucky don’t advance past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, who is under more pressure next year? Rick Barnes or John Calipari?

I know Vol fans probably won’t agree with this, as I know what Barnes’ reputation is when it comes to March Madness, but I’m willing to give him a pass if Tennessee can’t reach the Sweet 16 this year.

The reason? I just think Zakai Zeigler is so important to what the Vols do on both ends of the court. He was really their 1 true point guard and instigated both the offense and defense with his energy.

Losing a guy like that ahead of the NCAA Tournament is absolutely brutal. Especially when a red-hot Duke team potentially waits in Round 2 (remember, I’m writing this column before Thursday night’s games go final, so don’t yell at me if Oral Roberts end up winning).

Kentucky, on the other hand, has a favorable draw, in my opinion. I picked the Wildcats to get to the Sweet 16, beating Providence and Kansas State. If they can’t accomplish that, I think we’ll see a lot more discontent in Lexington.

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