ATHENS – Georgia basketball coach Mike White has plenty discussed the process behind his program’s rebuild throughout his first two seasons in Athens.

White’s rebuild takes one of its largest strides in the direction of NCAA respectability at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The Bulldogs (17-16) host Xavier in the opening round of their first National Invitation Tournament bid in seven years.

UGA was offered a No. 4 seed late Sunday night after its elimination from the SEC Tournament, an 85-80 loss to runner-up Florida, on Thursday.

The bid came as a pleasant surprise to some, including Georgia point guard Noah Thomasson. The graduate transfer spent his final year of eligibility at UGA, and was preparing for the next phase of his basketball career when the NIT called.

Thomasson leads the Bulldogs with 12.8 points per game this season.

“After we lost in Nashville, I thought for a minute that that was it for me and my college career, and it was now time to start looking at what we’re going to be doing professionally,” Thomasson said. “Now it’s like, ‘Let’s flip the switch back on in college and do what we’ve got to do.’”

The Bulldogs were given roughly 45 hours to prepare for the Musketeers (16-17), who finished eighth in the Big East. White, who holds a 7-4 record in the NIT in four career appearances, explained his modified preparation plan on Sunday night.

“We’ll have shorter film sessions because we’ll have more of them,” White said. “We’ll watch film right up until we tip Tuesday night.

“We’ll probably do something Tuesday morning. We’ll do something Tuesday at pregame meal and shootaround. We’ll do something in the locker room, and it’ll start tomorrow afternoon.”

The defensive-minded White will certainly zero in on Xavier’s Quincy Olivari, whose 19.4 points per game are good for the second-most in the Big East. The Atlanta native scored 17 against NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed UConn on Thursday.

Xavier is the second Big East team Georgia has faced this season. The Bulldogs suffered a 71-64 loss to Providence in the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship on Nov. 19.

Providence finished 10-10 in the Big East, just one game better than the 9-11 Musketeers. Xavier could provide an interesting benchmark, displaying how far the Bulldogs have progressed through their SEC schedule.

White will shoot for more progress on Tuesday as he fights to remain undefeated in NIT first round games.

“It’s not the ultimate goal, but it’s a step in the right direction,” White said. “From Year One (to) Year Two, we went to the NIT.”

Georgia is a 1.5-point favorite at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs would advance to face the winner of Wake Forest and Appalachian State in the second round.