The Panthers Are Best In Georgia

Ab Stanley

When looking around the state of Georgia, college sports rank higher than pro sports. Sure the people of the “Peach State” enjoy their pro teams but there are so many colleges out here that the masses are saturated with NCAA action. During basketball season, a plethora of teams play with hopes of making the NCAA Tournament. Who’s playing the best? Different conferences aside, one of these teams is playing better than the rest.

UGA (SEC), Georgia Tech (ACC), Georgia State and Georgia Southern (Sunbelt), all play in notable conferences with a chance to be a part of March Madness. It would be easy to say this team is better than that team but competition is so different it really comes down to who is playing the best and most consistent.

The Best Chance To Dance:

The University of Georgia Bulldogs (13-11) are having a rough go of it this season. They haven’t had a win streak since the first week of January and have lost seven out of their last nine games. Forward Yante Mateen averages 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He leads the entire SEC Conference in scoring but none of his teammates average double digits in points. With a 4-8 conference record they would have to run the table in the Southeastern Conference Tournament for a bid to the big dance.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-14) have had a bunch of injuries this season. A few off the court issues and players re-integrating themselves into the program at different times this season haven’t helped matters. They’ve got some good players like Been Lammers, Josh Okogie and freshman Jose Alvarado, but putting wins together have been a struggle. Their record has them sitting 13th in the ACC going 4-8 within the conference. Their only chance to make their way into the big dance would be an improbable run through the ACC tournament.

The Georgia Southern Eagles (16-10) have had a solid season this year but have struggled of late. They are 7-6 ranking them third in the Sunbelt Conference. They have lost five of their last seven, a streak that started against their in state rival Georgia State. The Eagles’ Tookie Brown is fourth in the conference averaging 19.0 points per game and is one of three Eagles that average double digits in scoring (Ike Smith, Mike Hughes). The Sunbelt will most likely have only one representative in the big dance. The Eagles will have their work cut out or them if they want to be that team.

The Georgia State Panthers (19-7) are in the middle of a great season. They are 10-3 in the Sunbelt Conference (2nd) and have won 10 out of their last 11 games overall. They are a great three point shooting, defensive team, with one of the best one on one players in the country. D’Marcus Simmonds leads the Sunbelt Conference in scoring with 21.6 points per game. He’s a legitimate threat every time he touches the ball driving to the basket or shooting long range. Jeff Thomas, Devin Mitchell and Malik Benlevi make up the other double digits scorers for the Panthers, all good shooters from long distance.

If winning the Conference is the only way for them to get in, then Georgia State has the best shot. The Panthers have already defeated first place Louisiana and the team right behind them, Georgia Southern. They’ve actually defeated the Yellow Jackets in an exhibition game earlier this season. They have the best player and what looks like the best shot at getting to the NCAA tournament.

Their play has separated them as they best team in the great State of Georgia.

Ab Stanley

Atlanta, GA

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