In 1971, the last and only time before this season that Georgia Tech made the NIT semifinals, the college basketball postseason was a different scene than it is today.
Tech’s approach in that season explains it quite clearly.
At the end of the 1970-71 regular season, the Yellow Jackets were 20-8, just the third 20-win season in school history. Tech was independent, having left the SEC after the 1963-64 season, later joining the Metro Conference and ultimately the ACC in 1979. Coach Whack Hyder’s team was invited to play in the NCAA Tournament, which that year had a 25-team field.
And the Jackets turned it down in favor of the NIT.