It isn’t where Georgia Tech wanted to be, but the Yellow Jackets are under consideration to play in the NIT. Selection committee chairman Reggie Minton confirmed as much Thursday.
“They’re going to be on the board,” Minton said. “That’s all I can say at this point.”
Tech is playing for its first postseason appearance since 2010, when the Jackets played in the NCAA tournament in coach Paul Hewitt’s penultimate season. The Jackets play Pittsburgh Saturday at McCamish Pavilion at 17-13.
Minton, the deputy director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, heads the eight-member committee that will fill out the 32-team field. Minton said the committee selects and arranges the field in the same way that the NCAA section committee sets the 68-team bracket – using a variety of criteria including RPI, schedule strength, good wins, bad losses, the "eye test" and the like.
Minton mentioned two other criteria that would seem to play in Tech’s favor – finishing well and “good losses.” The Jackets have won five of their past seven and have the opportunity to add to their run against Pittsburgh and in the ACC tournament.
“I think you’ve got to look at who did you beat, who did you beat on the road,” Minton said. “And then, you played the heck out of somebody and you got beat, but that was a top team. That’s worth something, too.”
Tech has a number of games that would fit in that category, including Tuesday’s three-point loss at No. 11 Louisville.
Tech’s chances at the NIT – assuming it does not qualify for the NCAA tournament, which at this point may require the Jackets to win the ACC championship – will hinge to a degree on what happens in other conference tournaments. The NIT gives automatic bids to any conference regular-season champion that does not play in the NCAA tournament.
Last year, 12 teams received automatic bids. In 2014, it was 13. In 2013, it was 10.
As of Friday morning, Tech's RPI was No. 76.
Last year, power-conference teams received eight of the 20 at-large bids. At the time the tournament began, those eight teams' average RPI, according to warrennolan.com, was 78.9, with a range from No. 59 to No. 104. They averaged 19 wins, with a range of 17 to 21, and 13.1 losses (range: 11-15).