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Peach State gears up for a rare big week for men's hoops
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For a state that has gone through quite the dry spell in men's hoops, this is shaping up to be an important week.

Georgia will be looking for its 20th win and the chance to make quite an impression on the NCAA selection committee when the Bulldogs host No. 1 Kentucky — the nation's only unbeaten team — on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Georgia State and Georgia Southern are tied for the Sun Belt Conference lead with Louisiana-Monroe heading into the final week of their regular season.

If both teams win their next-to-last games, they will meet in Atlanta on Saturday for the outright conference title and top seed in the Sun Belt tournament, determining which team gets the automatic NCAA bid.

Georgia (19-9, 10-6 Southeastern Conference) hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2011, but the Bulldogs have a strong RPI and are projected as a likely NCAA team in most mock-ups of the 68-team field.

A victory over mighty Kentucky would surely clinch it, no matter what Georgia does in its regular-season finale at Auburn and the SEC tournament.

"The goal was to make this program competitive and healthy," coach Mark Fox said. "In the grand scheme of things, I'm proud of our players for putting us in that position."

The Wildcats (29-0, 16-0) have already sealed the SEC's regular-season title and are trying for the first perfect season since Indiana in 1976.

"They're one of the great teams of all time," Fox said. "They have a front line that's bigger than every NBA team but maybe one. How do we get ready for Kentucky? I'll call Bud (Atlanta NBA coach Mike Budenholzer) and see if we can scrimmage the Hawks."

After consecutive home losses put a damper on the season, Georgia has bounced back with three straight SEC wins, including a 68-44 rout of Missouri this past Saturday.

"I know a lot of people panicked," Fox said. "But there were more games to play."

The Bulldogs will be meeting the Wildcats for the second time this season. Kentucky won 69-58 in Lexington.

Georgia State (20-9, 13-5) cruised past Troy 75-64 to get in position for its second straight Sun Belt title. If the Panthers can win at Louisiana-Monroe (19-10, 13-5) on Thursday, they would return home with a chance to clinch the championship against its state rival, a newcomer to the conference this season.

"To be able to pick up win No. 20 is special," coach Ron Hunter said. "That is a special number in college basketball and to be able to do it for the third time in four years shows the type of program that we are trying to build here at Georgia State."

Georgia Southern (20-7, 13-5) stumbled at Louisiana-Lafayette, losing 68-58. But the Eagles still have a shot to add a Sun Belt men's basketball title to the championship they won in football.

The Eagles host Texas-Arlington on Thursday before traveling to Atlanta.

"I really hope we have a great crowd and environment for our last home game," coach Mark Byington said. "Send the seniors out right."

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