ATHENS — Georgia basketball could be headed for its first postseason in seven years under second-year coach Mike White.

The Bulldogs (17-16) have reason to be optimistic they will be in the 32-team National Invitation Tournament field when it’s released at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night (ESPN2) if eight SEC teams are included in the NCAA tourney field.

“We’re hoping we can play some postseason. I love coaching these guys,” White said. “We want to prolong this season as much as possible and continue to build our program.”

A spot in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), while not as popular or prestigious as the NCAA tournament, would keep the ball bouncing in the right direction for the Bulldogs with an upcoming portal transfer window opening up on Monday and running through May 1.

The momentum of an NIT appearance would improve the likelihood of the Bulldogs locking down their three freshman starters: All-Freshman SEC pick and combo guard Silas Demary Jr., sharp-shooting Blue Cain and emerging 6-foot-9 forward Dylan James.

IT’s a UGA team that won 10 straight games at one point this season and scored wins over ACC teams Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Clemson.

Georgia’s favorable basketball bounce into more positive postseason hopes is the result of:

New policies for selecting the NIT field, which involve taking 12 teams that represent the top two non-NCAA teams from each of the traditional Power 5 conferences along with the Big East, as determined by the “NET” rankings

• Texas A&M’s upset win over Kentucky in the SEC tournament, which greatly improves the likelihood of an NCAA tourney bid for the Aggies (20-13), thus moving up Georgia in the league’s NIT field pecking order

• Ole Miss’ decision to opt out of postseason action, which moves the Bulldogs up yet again in the order of SEC teams’ considered for the NIT.

Georgia was eliminated from the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville last Thursday night after an 85-80 loss to Florida (23-10). The Gators proceeded to secure their NCAA tourney resume by knocking off the SEC tourney’s No. 3 seed, Alabama, by a 102-88 count on Friday.

ESPN’s most recent “bracketology” NCAA tournament field projections lists Texas A&M as “on the bubble” as one of the last four teams not in a play-in game. Texas A&M plays against Florida at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in the SEC Tournament.

Should Georgia make the 32-team NIT field, its opening game would be schedule for Tuesday or Wednesday night at a yet-to-be-determined arena, depending on how the field is seeded.

The top four seeds of the NIT field are the first four teams the NCAA committee ruled out of the so-called “Big Dance.” The remainder of the teams are made up of the 12 automatic league bids and then 16-to-20 at-large berths, based on “Net” rankings.

The NIT’s version of the Final Four takes place in Indianapolis at Butler’s storied Hinkle Fieldhouse, with the semifinals at 7 p.m. (ESPN) and 9:30 p.m. on April 2, and the championship game at 7 p.m. on April 4 (ESPN).

Here’s a look at the “NET” rankings and “RPI” rankings, which are among the metrics that have been used by the committee to select the NCAA tourney field:

SEC teams basketball NET rankings:

5. Auburn

6. Tennessee

9. Alabama

19. Kentucky

28. Florida

32. Mississippi State

42. Texas A&M

52. South Carolina

93. Ole Miss

95. LSU

100. Georgia

115. Arkansas

SEC teams basketball RPI rankings:

7. Tennessee

9. Auburn

13. Alabama

26. Florida

37. South Carolina

38. Mississippi State

40. Kentucky

59. Texas A&M

65. Ole Miss

106. Georgia

121. LSU

122. Arkansas