The NIT semifinal field and game times have been set. Georgia Tech will play Cal State Bakersfield at 7 p.m. EDT next Tuesday at New York’s Madison Square Garden. TCU and UCF will play in the following game, scheduled for 9 p.m. Cal State Bakersfield defeated Texas-Arlington 80-76 Wednesday night to earn a spot in the semifinal.
Details about each of the other three semifinalists:
Cal State Bakersfield
RPI, KenPom rating: 54, 84
Worth knowing: The school may be obscure – it was founded in 1965 and joined Division I in 2007 – but the Roadrunners have the highest RPI of any of the four teams remaining in the NIT. They won three road games – at Cal, at Colorado State, at Texas-Arlington – to reach New York.
Connection between Cal State Bakersfield and Georgia Tech: Cal State Bakersfield is coached by Rod Barnes, who, prior to his hire in 2011, coached at Georgia State. His dismissal at Georgia State in Feb. 2011 led to the hiring of Ron Hunter, who hired Tech grad Darryl LaBarrie as an assistant after he was let go as a member of Paul Hewitt’s staff in the same offseason. LaBarrie returned to Tech last year as a member of Josh Pastner’s staff.
Cal State Bakersfield assistant J.D. Pollock, a graduate of Lassiter High and Kennesaw State, is the son of Jim Pollock, whose father Jim played football for Tech.
Also, Pastner worked with Cal State Bakersfield’s AD, Kenneth “Ziggy” Siegfried, when both were at Memphis.
RPI, KenPom rating: 58, 64
Worth knowing: As Georgia Tech did, UCF made a coaching change at the end of last season, firing Donnie Jones and hiring Johnny Dawkins after he had been fired at Stanford. Picked to finish eighth in the American Athletic Conference, the Knights finished fourth in what proved to be a two-bid league, improving from 6-12 in the league last year to 11-7.
Connection between UCF and Georgia Tech: Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury served as UCF AD 2012-15. Should Tech and UCF meet, it would be the second postseason basketball matchup this month. The Yellow Jackets’ women’s team defeated the Knights last Sunday at McCamish Pavilion in the WNIT.
UCF center Tacko Fall, a 7-foot-6 sophomore from Senegal, was recruited by Tech by the Brian Gregory staff, particularly by Senegalese assistant Mamadou N’Diaye. He averaged 8.6 points and 7.8 rebounds in league play this season.
RPI, KenPom rating: 56, 38.
Worth knowing: As Georgia Tech and UCF did, TCU replaced its coach last offseason, firing Trent Johnson (whose departure from Stanford for LSU after the 2007-08 season led to Dawkins’ hiring at Stanford) and replacing him with Pitt coach Jamie Dixon.
TCU was picked last in the 10-team Big 12 and finished tied for eighth. The Horned Frogs beat Kansas in the Big 12 tournament and two other NCAA Tournament teams, Iowa State and Kansas State, in the regular season. TCU has two 6-11 players, forwards Vladimir Brodziansky and Karviar Shepherd, the former of whom leads the Horned Frogs in scoring at 13.8 points per game.
Connection between TCU and Georgia Tech: Tom Herrion, who was an assistant to Gregory, is now on Dixon’s staff as a special assistant. Hudson Price, the son of Tech legend Mark Price, played two seasons at TCU before transferring to Charlotte after his father became the coach there in 2015.