Bulldogs tip off vs. Michigan State in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Greetings from Time Warner Cable Arena here in downtown Charlotte. I’m here along with AJC columist Jeff Schultz to chronicle the Georgia Bulldogs’ journey into their 12th NCAA Tournament. It will start — and could end — here in the East Regional against the Michigan State Spartans.

The Bulldogs (21-11) come in as the 10th seed having finished in a tie for third in the SEC. Michigan State (23-11) also finished third in the Big Ten and is making its 18th consecutive appearance in the tournament under legendary coach Tom Izzo.

The main thing to watch for today will be the effectiveness of UGA shooting guard Kenny Gaines. Never mind all the conflicting reports about whether or not he’ll play with his sprained left foot. The kid’s gonna play. And how he plays is going to be important because the Spartans are a guard-oriented team led by Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice.

Inside figures to be a great matchup between Georgia’s Marcus Thornton — the only Bulldog with any NCAA appearance — and Michigan State’s fleet-footed forward Branden Dawson (12.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg). Of course, it seems that Georgia goes however forward Nemi Djurisic goes. And the 6-8 forward is due for a big game.

Below are some links to the stories we’ve written coming into this. Consider this a place to discuss the game, which tips off at 12:40 p.m. I’ll try to weigh in on occasion but you can always follow my live tweets from the game @ChipTowersAJC.



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