After pulling off a very impressive victory over Ole Miss in Oxford, Georgia Tech is officially NYC bound for the 2017 NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden! The Jackets, still one of just two ACC representatives currently alive in postseason play, will face off with the winner of CS-Bakersfield and UT-Arlington next Tuesday in the Big Apple in what should be a very exciting — and likely very winnable — game. Rest has been Tech’s absolute best friend all season long, and getting nearly a full week of it will benefit the Jackets greatly against their upcoming mid-major opponent. In the meantime, the Georgia Tech program has now achieved the remarkable feat of reaching the 20-win mark in consecutive seasons — something that hadn’t been done since Paul Hewitt was the head coach. We partially have Brian Gregory to thank for that, but the fact that Josh Pastner was able to accomplish such a daunting task with such a limited roster is truly amazing.
The Ole Miss game, by the way, may have been Tech’s most impressive performance of the season. Wins over highly-ranked opponents like North Carolina and Florida State will get more love every day of the week, but the fact that the Jackets were able to take down a 22-win Rebel team on the road and on incredibly short rest, especially given the dearth of depth in Tech’s frontcourt, is amazing. The atmosphere was as electric in Oxford as it had been at McCamish Pavilion for the first two games, but nothing would stop Josh Okogie (26 points, 7 rebounds) and Ben Lammers (20 points, 8 blocks) from dominating a talented Ole Miss team. My favorite part of the whole game is that Tech knocked Mississippi’s all-time record from 1281-1281 to 1281-1282, one game below .500, after head coach Andy Kennedy finally got the Rebels to that mark for the first time in nearly 60 years. It will be quite a while before they get the opportunity to correct that.
Unfortunately, the Tuesday news wasn’t all good for Georgia Tech athletics — the baseball team fell by a final score of 7-4 to rival(ish) Auburn at Russ Chandler Stadium to fall to 12-7 on the year. This recent stretch of schedule has been unquestionably treacherous, with five straight games coming against top-25 opposition, but going 2-3 against the best of the best at home is not really anything to be proud of. The worst part is Tech’s 2-4 conference mark, which could get even worse this weekend if the team isn’t prepared for a bounce back against Wake Forest up in Winston Salem; starting off the conference slate with three straight lost series would be a serious blemish on the resume of a baseball team that was widely-regarded as one of the nation’s best in the preseason. There’s still plenty of baseball left to be played, but finding consistency from every position will be critical as the season continues.