Georgia Tech guard Francesca Pan scored a career-high 30 points against No. 4 N.C. State February 16, 2020, in Raleigh, N.C. (NC State Athletics/Chris Downey )

History-making win places Georgia Tech women on tournament bubble

Georgia Tech’s basketball team sits on the NCAA tournament bubble after a critical road win Sunday, a 65-61 win over No. 4 N.C. State in Raleigh, N.C.

Moreover, it was one of the most noteworthy wins in the entirety of the team’s 46-year history. Before Sunday, Tech had lost 36 games in a row to teams ranked in the top 10.

Even more notably, the Yellow Jackets had never beaten a top-10 team on the road, losing more than 50 games in a row before toppling the Wolfpack on Sunday.

Guard Francesca Pan dropped a career-high 30 points – 22 in the second half — as the Jackets rallied from a 30-25 halftime deficit to deliver the Wolfpack only their third loss of the season.

With the win, Tech improved to 17-9 overall and 8-7 in the ACC. The win also pushed Tech’s RPI ranking up 17 spots to 72, improving the Jackets’ positioning for their first NCAA tournament bid since 2014.

The Jackets’ RPI had risen as high as the 20’s earlier in the season after reaching 14-3 with a road win at then-No. 11 Florida State Jan. 9. However, the Jackets then lost five in a row, three at home.

At No. 72 in the RPI, Tech presents an interesting profile for the selection committee. The Jackets have road wins over two RPI top-25 teams (Florida State and N.C. State) and is 3-4 against teams ranked in the top 50 of RPI.

That statistic compares favorably with many teams in the RPI’s top 40. For instance, of the teams ranked 21-40 as of Monday morning, only eight had a better record by winning percentage against top-50 teams than Tech.

However, Tech’s non-conference strength of schedule is 145, 12th in the ACC. The Jackets also are 3-3 against teams rated 101-200 in RPI. Only one team in the RPI top 100 has a losing record in that category and most teams are either undefeated or have one loss.

Picked to finish in the bottom third of the ACC after suffered heavy losses in the transfer portal while undergoing a coaching transition, the Jackets have already significantly outperformed expectations. They are eighth in the ACC at 8-7. Tech has not finished with a winning record in ACC play since the 2013-14 season, when the Jackets completed a run of seven NCAA tournament appearances in eight seasons under former coach MaChelle Joseph.

Tech has opportunity to improve its standing with the selection committee this week,as the Jackets face two top-25 RPI teams at home, No. 9 Louisville Thursday and No. 14 Florida State on Sunday. The Jackets finish the regular season March 1 at Clemson before beginning the ACC tournament.

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