Georgia Tech center Ben Lammers was as puzzled as everyone else. When he saw his team’s name pop up during the NIT selection show on ESPNU, he noticed that the game site was listed as Atlanta, even though the Yellow Jackets are playing Indiana and the Hoosiers are the higher seed.
“We were a little confused,” he said.
The reason Tech will be at home is that Indiana passed on its right to hold the game at its Assembly Hall. The school is on spring break this week, and there were concerns about diminished attendance with students away from campus. When the Hoosiers last played in the NIT, they lost to Vanderbilt at Assembly Hall in a game played before 5,113, a record low for the arena by more than 2,000 fans. A column on Saturday by Indianapolis sports radio talk Kent Sterling recalled “the thousands of empty seats at Assembly Hall left unfilled by apathetic fans who decided their time, money, and energy were better invested somewhere else.”
The switch came as a relief for Lammers. Beyond getting to play at home again, he said he has a fluid dynamics test on Wednesday. A 9 p.m. tipoff in Bloomington on Tuesday would have meant a return to Atlanta in the middle of the night Wednesday.
As the higher seed, the Hoosiers will wear their home whites while Tech is planning to wear its gold uniforms. Lammers said he was more of a fan of the navy uniforms.
“Really, everyone is,” he said. “But as long as we win in the color, I don’t really care.”
Lammers said he likes the look of the navy uniform better and that the team seems to have had bad losses in the gold. Among other defeats, Tech lost to Georgia in December, Duke in January and Clemson in February in gold. Actually, though, Tech is 2-6 in navy this season (including both road wins) and 2-4 in gold this season.
Other than the uniforms, the game production should be fairly similar to a regular-season home game at McCamish. It is considered a home game for Tech.
Indiana isn’t the only NIT higher seed that won’t be playing in its own arena. Houston, which Tech played last year in the NIT, earned a No. 2 seed but will play at Texas Southern, which is also located in Houston, because its own arena is beginning a renovation project.