Originally created 03/15/04

Yellow Jackets take three seed



ATLANTA -- Luke Schenscher still isn't exactly clear where Georgia Tech is headed this weekend.

But the Yellow Jackets' 7-foot Australian center doesn't care because he's headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career.

The Yellow Jackets (23-9) earned the No. 3 seed in the St. Louis Regional and will play 14th-seed Northern Iowa (21-9), the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champions, at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, on Friday. The winner will play the winner of No. 6 Boston College (23-9) and No. 11 Utah (24-8) on Sunday in Milwaukee.

"Where's Milwaukee?" Schenscher asked Scott McDonald, the Yellow Jackets' strength and conditioning coach when the bracket was announced on Sunday. "Wisconsin," McDonald replied. "Where's Wisconsin?" Schenscher said.

The matter wasn't cleared up when Schenscher met with the media on Sunday night.

"I haven't seen (Wisconsin) yet on the map, so I'm still a bit hazy."

The Yellow Jackets are also a little hazy on the Panthers, their first-round opponent. Northern Iowa has won eight consecutive games, including a 79-74 double-overtime victory against Southwest Missouri State in the MVC final to secure their spot in the tournament.

"They won their conference championship. Any team that can win their conference championship deserves a lot of respect," Schenscher said. Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said he had not watched the Panthers play, but did listen to a game during the MVC tournament on the radio while traveling in Kansas a week ago. The Georgia Tech staff began breaking down tape of Northern Iowa on Sunday evening.

Point guard Jarrett Jack, the team's resident basketball junkie, said he watched the Panthers play recently and was impressed with their standout shooting guard, Ben Jacobson. Jacobson, a 6-3 sophomore, leads the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game and 3-point percentage at 39.8 percent.

"He's a lights-out 3-point shooter who we're going to have to defend on every catch," Jack said.

The Panthers have four players averaging in double figures and five that have made at least 25 3-pointers.

Six-foot-six forward David Gruber (11.9 points, 6.9 rebounds) made the All-MVC first team. Northern Iowa, which will be meeting Georgia Tech for the first time, is making its second trip to the NCAA Tournament, having upset Missouri as a No. 14 seed in 1990, its only other appearance. The Panthers lost to Minnesota in the second round that season.

This is Georgia Tech's first appearance in the tournament since 2001, Hewitt's first season. The Yellow Jackets lost to Saint Joseph's in the first round that year.

The last time Georgia Tech played in Milwaukee, James Forrest nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat No. 2 seed Southern California 79-78 in the second round of the 1992 tournament.

"This is the tournament that everybody, Northern Iowa included, has a chance of making a mark. They still talk about Valparaiso and the shot they made so everybody has an opportunity," Hewitt said. "We don't walk into the tournament with a chip on our shoulder. It's a time for everybody to really enjoy what they accomplished for the season and a time to elevate the status of your program."

Despite the Yellow Jackets' breakout season, which included winning the Preseason NIT, upsetting Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and their No. 3 seed, Hewitt still believes his team has something to prove. "Georgia Tech isn't a household name," he said. "I got up this morning and watched ESPN and heard them talk about every school in the (Atlantic Coast Conference) except for Georgia Tech. So we still have things to prove to get the national respect that we're trying to gain."

Ticket Info

Season-ticket holders and Alexander-Tharpe contributors can place orders on ramblinwreck.com by 5 p.m. today. Orders will be filled in order of AT priority. Tickets are $55 for Friday's session. The school is allotted no more than 500 tickets. If any tickets remain Tuesday, they will be made available to the general public by calling 1-888-TECH-TIX.