Georgia basketball showing determination in advancing to NIT semifinals

The Georgia basketball team has reached the semifinals of the NIT, and while it's not the Big Dance, this is a huge step for Mike White's team.
Mar 26, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes forward Zed Key (23) maneuvers around Georgia
Mar 26, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes forward Zed Key (23) maneuvers around Georgia / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

It took some grit and hard-nosed play, but Georgia was able to squeak by the Ohio State Buckeyes in their NIT quarterfinal game, 79-77.

That means Georgia will be playing in the semifinals at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on April 2 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent, either Seton Hall or UNLV.

Yes, you read that correctly. Georgia is playing in the semifinals of a national basketball tournament. I'll wait while you pick your jaws up from the floor.

How did this happen? How did a team that started off the season with so much promise only to find themselves buried near the bottom of the SEC by the end of the year wind up with a chance to actually win a major tournament?

The truth is, this Georgia basketball team was never that bad. They had some stretches of excellent play, along with some pockets of dismal performances. But they were rarely out of a game all year, and they played eventual SEC champion Florida tougher than any team in the conference tournament.

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Some may scoff and say that the NIT means nothing, but even having a chance to win a major tournament is a step in the right direction for a program that's been stuck in neutral for what seems like decades.

They don't have the greatest shooters, their guard play leaves a lot to be desired, and they don't have that "star" like an Anthony Edwards or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to lift them up. But Mike White has Georgia playing solid fundamental basketball, limiting mistakes, and playing some of the best defense you'll see.

In short, this is a team that wills itself to wins, which is exactly what they did against heavily-favored Ohio State in the quarterfinal game. Georgia was up by as many as 13 points in the second half, only to see the Buckeyes storm back to take the lead.

Some clutch shots and outstanding defense kept Ohio State from extending that lead, and put Georgia on top when the final buzzer sounded.

This kind of win over the Buckeyes is getting to be habitual, no?

One more win, and the Dawgs are in the NIT finals. While it's not the Big Dance, it's quite an achievement and something Mike White can use to help continue building his program.