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#TGW: The Traveling Jackets

March 19, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

While the Yellow Jackets are pleased to be heading back to the NCAA Tournament, where Georgia Tech Sunday will play LSU in a first-round game, they’re not exactly thrilled about playing the Tigers on their home floor.

The Tigers, by contrast, seemed overjoyed and surprised upon learning Monday that they had been tabbed a No. 7 seed to Tech’s No. 10.

LSU (19-11) lost seven of its last eight games while the Jackets (20-11) finished ACC play 6-2 after a 3-5 first half. Each team won its first game in a conference tournament, and fell to a traditional power in the second (Duke and Tennessee).

Senior forward Theresa Plaisance of the Tigers told the Baton Rouge Advocate, “I think it’s a great draw. I think pretty gracious. Our last games haven’t shown what we’re capable of; apparently the [selection] committee sees more than we’ve been showing.”

Tech coach MaChelle Joseph led the Jackets to six straight NCAA tournaments before missing out last year, and upon learning that her team would travel to Baton Rouge to play the Tigers, she was pleased, then perhaps a tad bothered to be playing a team on its home floor in the first round.

Then, pleased again.

“It never gets old; every year it just seems more exciting,” the coach said. “Just having a year off, you realize that you can’t take things for granted.”

Tech senior swingman Ty Marshall is just about ready to go.

“I think we match up pretty well with LSU,” she said. “It’s always satisfying to be in the NCAA Tournament, but I think not being able to participate last year was rough on us and getting back to it is definitely good for us. No matter what we’re seeded, we have a great chance with the teammates that I have.”

LSU senior guard Jeanne Kenney said, “We were expecting an 8, 9 or 10 seed. It’s a relief; [we] can breathe now.”

This will be LSU’s third straight trip to the NCAAs and 15th trip in 16 years.

Tigers coach Nikki Caldwell was nervous before watching Monday’s selection show. LSU lost its last six regular season games, beat Alabama in the SEC Tournament, and then fell 77-65 to Tennessee.

Ultimately, LSU’s strength of schedule, which has been ranked No. 1 or 2 recently, and the Tigers’ RPI of 15 pushed the Bayou Bengals into the tourney and made them a higher seed than Tech despite an overall lesser record.

“We’re excited about facing Georgia Tech,” Caldwell said. “They’re a defensive-minded team with a balanced attack, and so are we. It’s about who can come out and capitalize on their game plan.”

For freshmen who have never been, this is a bit different.

After watching the tournament selection show with her teammates and coaches, Tigers frosh Raigyne Moncrief told the Advocate, “I didn’t know it going to be such a big deal. It’s my first time to be part of something this big. It’s exciting to have a chance to fight to go to the Final Four. This is a dream come true.”

Sign up Tech freshman Kaela Davis.

“We had a great push toward the end of conference play; we’ve just got to bring that momentum with us,” she said. “It’s an amazing kind of pride to see your [team] team up there on the bracket.”

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