The unlikely story of Georgia Tech’s 1971 NIT team

Georgia Tech’s Rich Yunkus (40) grabs rebound while Michigan’s Ernie Johnson (30) puts on some heat during first half action of National Invitation Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, March 24, 1971. Georgia Tech’s Jim Thorne (25) is at right. Rich Yunkus burned Michigan with a 27-point, 15-rebound performance to lead Georgia Tech to a 78-70 victory advancing them into the semifinals. (AP Photo/JSJ)

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.

Read the complete story here.


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