The NCAA tournament selection committee, already faced with a particularly difficult task this season, must now confront an additional wrinkle: how to consider games that appear to have taken place on an uneven playing field.
The NCAA will not decide until after the season whether the 19 victories by Georgia will be forfeited because of the academic fraud the school has acknowledged.
But Jack Kvancz, athletic director at George Washington University and a selection committee member, said that in some scenarios losses to Georgia would "play on my mind" this weekend when the committee considers teams whose records include losses to the Bulldogs.
In the past, schools that acknowledged academic fraud forfeited all victories involving players who cheated. Minnesota reached the 1997 Final Four but forfeited all its victories after an investigation showed massive fraud by team members.
Georgia and Fresno State have already changed the selection committee's job by removing themselves from tournament consideration, perhaps allowing two teams in that would not have made the field.
The question remains on how to judge candidates for those slots.
Take Gonzaga. The Zags are 23-8 but failed to win the West Coast Conference tournament and earn an automatic NCAA bid. One of Gonzaga's losses is to Georgia. The two players ruled ineligible, Chris Daniels and Rashad Wright, played 27 and 30 minutes, respectively, against Gonzaga.
Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth thinks the committee will take the likelihood that Georgia competed with ineligible players into account.
"That's the good part of having people that are all very knowledgeable," Roth said yesterday. "They are aware of what's going on. I believe they will consider there is an indication of ineligible players having played against us and they will factor that in their mind just like they do with injury situations."
"We are all human," Kvancz said of committee members. "I think you have to consider such a thing."
Florida might have lost a No. 1 seeding by losing to Georgia, 82-81, last week, but Jeremy Foley, athletic director at Florida, said that he isn't losing sleep over it.
"I don't know how the committee is going to view it," Foley said. "Whether that effects our seeding, I'm not going to worry about it."
Deciding which teams are in and which are out is not a highly scientific process, said Bill Hancock, a former tournament director.
"They have plenty of information to help them make their decision," Hancock said. "But the whole thing is about making a subjective judgment."
Some of the important choices are made for them. Of the 65 tournament teams, 31 earn automatic bids by winning conference championship. The committee decides who fills the 34 at-large berths.
Committee members can study a team's injury report, conference and road records or its Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which measures the strength of a team's schedule and how it performed against those opponents, but does not factor in such things as injuries or margin of victory.
The RPI for teams that played Georgia will be unaffected by Georgia's situation, said Jerry Palm, publisher of www.collegeRPI.com, which provides information on colleges' RPI ratings.
Neither Georgia nor the NCAA has forced the team to forfeit any games, and the likelihood of that happening before the tournament is low, according to Palm.
"Federal legislation moves quicker," he said.
Moreover, in the unlikely event that the NCAA strips Georgia of its victories before the tournament, those teams that would receive a victory in the record books would not get one with the NCAA's RPI, said Hancock, who retired as tournament director last year.
When figuring RPI for the teams Georgia forfeited to, the games would be treated as if they never happened, he said.