The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (17-8) will face the Loyola Chicago Ramblers (24-4) Friday as they make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010. The ACC Champions locked in the ninth seed for the Midwest Region of the tournament while the Ramblers secured their eighth. The Yellow Jackets have a 23-16 overall NCAA Tournament record and are looking to raise the win category during March Madness.

“It’s a real honor, privilege, and blessing to be in the 2021 NCAA Tournament,” Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner said “I felt like we accomplished our mission of what we wanted to accomplish when we got the job here and that was to get Georgia Tech back into the NCAA Tournament. So mission accomplished”

“It was just great seeing Georgia Tech’s name get called,” Senior Guard Jose Alvarado said. “We have a great team we are about to play in Loyola Chicago and we are just going to focus on them and try to keep it going and keep winning.”

The Yellow Jackets punched an automatic ticket to the big dance after winning the ACC Tournament last weekend. This appearance will snap the second-longest NCAA Tournament drought among ACC schools. Tech defeated four AP Top 25 teams during the regular season and took down the nationally-ranked Florida State Seminoles in the postseason conference tournament. The resume they built does raise a few eyebrows towards their arguably low ninth seed in this tournament. Even with the controversial ranking, the team is excited to represent Atlanta.

“It is what it is. I just wanted to get in,” Josh Pastner explained. “We are the ACC Tournament champions but it is probably a fair seed the way I look at it.”

“I am assuming it was a good seeding. It’s fine,” Jose Alvarado said. “We’re just glad to be in and have our name called and have a chance to play in March Madness.”

All eyes will be on Tech’s Jose Alvarado as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year put on a show in the conference championship. Alvarado swiped five steals against Florida State and looked more and more like an NBA prospect. The senior guard is a floor general who is praised for his defensive prowess. However, opponents in the upcoming NCAA Tournament need not to underestimate his scoring ability.

“I can score at any will I think,” Jose Alvarado stated. “I’m a three-level scorer. Not just on defense part but I have great teammates that make me a lot better”

Alvarado is a pass-first guard given the fact that he is surrounded by guys like Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher who can fill it up. Alvarado can and will get a bucket when necessary though. He has been shooting 50% from the field and 38.9% from three in his four-year career at Tech. This past season he averaged 15.3 points per game. Not only can he get hot from deep, but he is also aggressive enough to attack the paint. Junior guard Michael Devoe is also a three-level scorer averaging 15 points this year as well. A backcourt led by these two is one to watch in any matchup.

Loyola Chicago’s scoring defense is ranked No. 1 nationally and Tech will need to be patient creating shots. The Ramblers are also a team praised for their ability to move the ball around with ease. It will be interesting to see how their elite passing skills will clash with Tech’s ability to force turnovers. The Yellow Jackets forced a season-high 25 turnovers against the Seminoles in the ACC Championship and they will certainly continue the momentum on Friday. Tech forward Khalid Moore will also need to show out defensively as defending the three has been a weak spot for the team. Loyola is ranked third in the nation in field goal percentage and will need to be slowed down early.

“Loyola Chicago is a really good basketball team,” Josh Pastner stated. “They defend like crazy, they run great stuff offensively and we will have to play at a very high level if we want an opportunity to win the game.”

“I think we play a unique way of basketball especially on the defensive side,” Jose Alvarado said. “That’s going to give teams a hard time and I’m excited and can’t wait for Friday.”

The Ramblers’ team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, now 101 years old, will join the team in the Indianapolis team bubble. She gained national fame during their 2018 run to the Final Four. While she lobbied to join the team, the pandemic-related restrictions made it an uncertainty — until Tuesday, when she received clearance from administrators.

“I’m not going to cause any disturbance,” Sister Jean promised during an online media session.

If the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets advance past the No. 8 Loyola Chicago Ramblers on Friday they will face the winner between No.1 Illinois and No. 16 Drexel. Tip-off is set for 4 pm on TBS.

Photo: Georgia Tech Athletics
Photo: Georgia Tech Athletics

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