The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets actually represent the non-conference slate for the NCAA tournament. The team is coached by Josh Pastner and plays its home season at the Ga Tech campus in Atlanta, Georgia. A year ago the Jackets won the Atlantic Coast Conference and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament where they were upset by the University of North Carolina. This year the Jackets look to return to the top of the league as the #2 seed and will take on the winner of the Texas Southern Conference, Rice University in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
It is now known that there are going to be some fairly sizable salary raises for some of the Georgia Tech athletes this season as the team looks to challenge for the national championship next spring. Sports writer Dave Lens reported on the potential for a ten percent raise over the next three years for the football and basketball players. While this may seem like quite a large sum of money to earn, it would actually be a huge accomplishment considering that only four other schools are expected to be making a push for the national championship this year.
Improving The Team
There is no doubt that coach Pastner has put a lot of extra effort into improving the team this past season. He knows that to get to the national championship he needs to turn the Georgia Tech basketball program around and compete with the other major conference programs. While the baseball and football programs are improving it is apparent that the basketball program is not. In fact, the Jackets have one of the lowest winning percentages in the entire country. The question then becomes will this affect the rest of the season and do the Jackets really have what it takes to challenge for the national championship?
The short answer is “it depends”. The Jackets have a long string of bowl appearances and have beaten some top teams in the past such as South Florida and NC State but they have not beaten a top ranked team in the SEC during their time. This is an interesting situation considering the fact that the Jackets have a lot of talent on their team but they just do not have the skills to go into the NCAA tournament consistently. They did capture the Atlantic Coast Conference but they were not able to go beyond the second round. There are three times in the past 10 years that the Georgia Tech football team has reached the Sweet Sixteen.
Capturing National Title
In the first two occasions they went to the championship game they were out matched by a highly respected program in the University of Alabama. The Tide was a one and a half record favorite which is a team many people believed could go all the way to the national championship. In the second game the Georgia Tech basketball team showed why it is one of the best in the country not only in the Atlantic Coast Conference but also the SEC.
The Jackets were playing at a neutral site in what should be a fairly sizable college football stadium and they were not only up against an extremely talented Alabama team but they were also faced with a number of high profile college athletes that play for some of the top teams in the country. It seemed that nothing could possibly stop the Jackets from capturing their second national title in as many seasons as they have.
Developing Program In To National Power
For the third time in as many appearances in the Georgia Tech basketball conference, in the second round of the NCAA tournament the Jackets fell just short against eventual national champion Florida State. Many people who have been following the team throughout the year expect them to be in the Sweet Sixteen for a long period of time. This is certainly a huge weight off of the shoulders of the Yellow Jackets as they now enter their bowl season with much more confidence than they had entering the tournament. This is also one more example of coach Hyder’s ability to take a good program and develop it into a national power.
If they can continue to improve on what they have done so far in the conference they have a good chance to reach the Elite Eight. If they lose this first tournament game to Florida State in January they will be back in the Sweet Sixteen and looking to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. A loss to either Virginia or North Carolina would certainly send the Yellow Jackets to the elimination rounds once again.
With a roster of great players such as Jeff McRae, Perry Stevenson, Jamel Winston, Trevis Johnson, Cezer Johnson, Rashard Lewis and others, the Jackets will be an exciting team to watch and could possibly challenge for the national championship in March. Georgia Tech basketball is without question one of the best in the country. With Coach Mike Wright leading the way they are able to consistently come out on top in every competition they participate in.
The program is loaded with athletes that have skills on the court which will enable them to become a very successful team in the near future. This year the Jackets are a true threat to win the NCAA tournament and become a major player in college basketball.