Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Georgia

Well I guess we’re doing this one instead. Tennessee was supposed to play Florida as part of a revenge game of sorts at 7 PM tonight, but instead, they draw a Georgia program that currently saddles up at 90th at KenPom. This is not to say that Georgia can’t have an unusually good performance, obviously! It’s just to say that going from playing #28 in a legitimately important game to playing a team with zero wins against Top 50 competition is quite the bummer.

Anyway, Georgia is anchored by Tom Crean, the former Indiana coach who made all the goofy faces you see on your timeline every time he wins or loses an important fixture. To Crean’s credit, twice in his coaching career he’s done a full-on program turnaround. His Indiana one was more impressive, but don’t forget about a double-turnaround at Marquette. The Golden Eagles had Dwyane Wade, of course, but what you may not remember is Crean’s final Marquette team finishing up at #14 in KenPom and making the Round of 32.

At Georgia, things have…not really turned around yet. Georgia has gotten incrementally better through 2.5 seasons (132nd, 96th, 90th) but has yet to take the grand leap that recruiting Anthony Edwards suggested or having four Top 100 recruits on this year’s roster would’ve theoretically suggested. Tom Crean’s next miracle is taking a while.

Game information section:

  • THE OPPONENT: Georgia (12-6, 5-6).
  • THE TIME: 8 PM ET.
  • THE CHANNEL: ESPN2.
  • THE ANNOUNCERS: Tom Hart (PBP) and Jimmy Dykes (color).
  • THE SPREAD: Tennessee -12.

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NEXT PAGE: We do not have enough time to rank the best musicians from Georgia. That would take a while!

Show Me My Opponent: Georgia

Athens, The City

As someone who’s never been to Athens, I spend an awful lot of time thinking about the city. It appears to be a mid-sized Southern city purely made for someone like me, a music obsessive that happens to love basketball (and, secondarily, football) a lot. The city is home to an excellent university, a wildly diverse art scene, and, most importantly, food. But it is also home to three musical acts incredibly important to my youth: The B-52s, R.E.M., and Pylon.

All three emerged out of the same University of Georgia-adjacent scene in the late-70s/early-80s. Two of these bands you know very well; two of these bands have pitch-perfect debut albums that everyone should own. Somehow, the third of these – a significantly less perfect debut – is of utmost importance to me. Pylon’s Gyratea 1980 release, is a pretty excellent new wave-ish album from the Athens group. The idea itself is surprisingly simple – what if we made a punk album you could dance to? – and a basically perfect record for my scatterbrain.

However, there’s a follow-up edition of this album released in 2007, long after the group had ceased its existence: Gyrate Plus. 16 songs long instead of 11, it adds a few songs on both ends. Most bonus track releases are money-grabs that don’t catch my eye. AND YET: this does, because of the first two songs. “Cool” was featured in a Lexus commercial a few years back and sounds, well, like the coolest thing ever. “Dub” is basically the only reason I still play guitar, because it is the absolute perfect song for someone with a 12-year-old’s brain. Amazingly, Pylon released these two songs as a little-known single a year prior to the album coming out.

I like thinking about this band, because I like thinking about any unfairly-ignored group and I like thinking about the fact it took them 27 years to realize the two best songs they ever recorded probably should’ve led off their debut album. I guess they arrived at thinking they should lead the re-release of the album with them somehow, but it’s nice to think of it as a happy accident. Accidental greatness – the name of what I’d probably like to achieve one day.

Athens, The Sports Town

Everyone rightfully thinks about Georgia football when it comes to the University of Georgia. BUT: did you know their basketball team has a seriously odd history? A quick deep dive starts below.

  • 11 times in a 22-season span, Georgia basketball spent at least some time in the AP top 20…yet never peaked higher than 10th for a week in 1983-84, a season they did not make the NCAA Tournament.
  • Just three times in the 64/68-team era has Georgia lost single-digit games…but until last season, they’d never topped 20 losses, either.
  • Georgia has finished within one game of .500 in conference play either way 14 different times in the last 29 seasons.
  • In the modern era of basketball – we’re saying about 1970-present here – Mark Fox is easily #2 in Georgia’s history in wins at 163. Mark Fox never won an NCAA Tournament game at Georgia, spent one week ranked at #24, and never had a W-L% better than 63.6%. And yet!

Ken Pomeroy’s program ratings place Georgia as the 61st-best program in college basketball, which seems pretty much perfect. Georgia’s only finished in the KP Top 50 six times in its 23-year database, hasn’t made the Sweet Sixteen, has never finished higher than 16th (2002-03)…and yet, they are never outright terrible, last season excepted. In the post-Jim Harrick era, Georgia’s only made three NCAA Tournaments in 16 seasons, with zero wins. However, they are ridiculously consistent: they’ve finished in the KP Top 50 once and have finished outside of it six times, which means they’ve ranked 51-100 nine times.

In some fashion, it’s remarkable. Georgia may be the most fine program out there. You never spend a second worrying about them, but they’re always there…waiting on the periphery…thinking about getting better…never actually getting better. If .500 were in the dictionary, you would see this program. I think I’ve arrived at considering this commendable in some way; fans of the program itself will think of it as a relentless frustration.

NEXT PAGE: The second Pylon album is also good, complete with all-time cover art