The Yellow Jackets will play in the NIT final for the first time since 1971 Thursday, with a chance to win their first-ever championship in the tournament.
Georgia Tech (21-15) lived on the big dance bubble for much of the last month of the regular season but fell short. On Thursday night, the Yellow Jackets have a chance to bring home a banner to McCamish Pavilion.
The Wreck made the National Invitation Tournament as the No. 6 seed and rumbled through Indiana, Belmont and Ole Miss to make it to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. After getting past Cal State Bakersfield, the Jackets made their first NIT final in 46 years.
Legendary coach John Hyder, and his captain Rich Yunkus lost in the NIT final to North Carolina in 1971, and Georgia Tech hadn’t been back to the Garden for the tournament quarterfinals since. In his first season, Josh Pastner’s Jackets have a shot to finally win the tournament.
Last Time Out:
California State Bakersfield came into the NIT as the WAC regular-season champions and cut through top competition on their way to New York, but the Roadrunners were no match for Georgia Tech’s defense.
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The Jackets shot 43.8 percent on field goals, and won the turnover battle, only giving up the ball seven times.
Know the Opponent:
TCU (23-15) took down Fresno State, No. 1 seed Iowa, Richmond and Central Florida to make it to the NIT finals.
The Horned Frogs got of to an 8-0 start on the year, but then had skids of 0-4 and 0-7 during the season, dropping them off the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Averaging 74.4 points-per-game and allowing 70.1, TCU is led by Vladimir Brodziansky‘s 13.9 point average.
This is TCU’s first NIT appearance since 2005, and the seventh in team history. This marks the program’s first NIT final, and like Georgia Tech, Texas Christian has never won the tournament.
Players to Watch:
Georgia Tech: C Ben Lammers
With TCU led by a strong power forward, Ben Lammers will need to be on his game down low, and do it without fouls. He’s shown during NIT play that he’s up to the task. If Lammers can dominate the boards and hit the short shots TCU gives him, another double-double could be in the works.
TCU: F Vladimir Brodziansky
A 6’11” native of Slovakia, Brodziansky has carried the Horned Frogs this season with a 56.5 field goal percentage and 18 or more points through the last three NIT games. He’ll need to make short shots at a high percentage with Ben Lammers inside for TCU to have a shot.
TCU beat some stiff competition this season, but Georgia Tech beat some of the best in the nation in ACC play. Tech had a better chance late of making the NCAA Tournament, and the NIT can sometimes allow for disappointment upset opportunities. It’s clear that Josh Pastner has his Jackets happy to be right where they are. The Ole Miss wire-to-wire road win spoke volumes about Tech and should hint that they’re hard to beat of late. Look for Georgia Tech to win a battle close.
Viewers can catch the game this evening on ESPN at 8 pm and on the following Atlanta radio stations 680 AM, 93.7 FM. If you have Sirius or XM radio you can catch the game on channel 84,.