February 11, 2017 Atlanta - Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner shouts instructions in a basketball game at McCamish Pavilion on Saturday, February 11, 2017. Georgia Tech won 65 - 54 over the Boston College. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Pastner answers: First-round NCAA loss or NIT semifinals?

Georgia Tech’s end-of-season slide, in which the Yellow Jackets lost five of their final seven games prior to NCAA Tournament selection, probably took it off the tournament bubble and into the NIT.

And that, coach Josh Pastner said, worked out for the best. Asked Friday if making the NIT semifinals was ultimately better for the team than losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – a likely scenario had the Jackets made the 68-team field, Pastner didn’t hesitate.

“No question,” he said. “We want to be in the NCAA Tournament, but for what we’ve gotten out of this – home fans, the wins that we’ve had to get to 20 wins, we’re most wins in the history of Georgia Tech at home with 17, the exposure that we’re getting out of it, 80 made field goals/60 assists, all these things.”

Tech will continue its NIT run Tuesday with a semifinals matchup against Cal State Bakersfield in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The last time the Jackets made it this far in the NIT was 1971.

Further, Pastner said, the goal of still making the NCAA Tournament is still out there for the team to pursue.

“So we can can still have something to work for and get to, and that’s what makes it good, that we’re having such a great year, but there’s still a lot to be played for as we move into the future,” he said.

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