Basketball season is here, folks. New season, new coach, new team. I know we all don’t expect much of anything from this year’s team, but it’s sports. Anything can happen. So let’s take a look at the Jackets’ schedule and see how things line up for the 2016-17 campaign.
The Josh Pastner era opens with five home games against Tennessee Tech, Southern, Ohio, Sam Houston State and Tulane. We would all sincerely hope the Jackets could start 5-0, but Tech was pushed to OT in their exhibition against Division II Shorter University and a much better Georgia Tech team lost at home last year to East Tennessee State. So we’ll see if the Jackets are able to win all of those games.
After that, Tech heads on the road for three straight contests against Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Tennessee and VCU. None of these games will be easy. Penn State looks to improve off a 16-16 season last year that included wins over #22 Indiana and #4 Iowa. Tennessee is a team similar to the Yellow Jackets in that they will have a lot of personnel turnover this season, so that game in Knoxville should be an interesting one. VCU ended up 25-11 last season and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, though they lost to Georgia Tech in Atlanta last season. Tech travels to Richmond this year to take on the perennial mid-major power, but the Rams lost their exhibition game to Division II Queens, so there are some question marks surrounding VCU this season.
The Yellow Jackets will return to McCamish Pavilion for four more non conference games against Alcorn State, Georgia, Wofford and North Carolina A&T. Obviously the biggest matchup of those games will be Georgia, who was predicted to finish fifth in the SEC and could compete for an NCAA Tournament bid this season. Tech beat the Bulldogs in their 2014 season opener, but lost last season in Athens.
Tech then opens ACC play on New Year’s Eve against North Carolina, ranked #6 in the AP Preseason Poll and coming off a near miss in last season’s national championship game against Villanova. The Jackets then travel to Durham, N.C. to play this year’s national title favorites and preseason top-ranked team, the Duke Blue Devils. It then theoretically gets easier, as the Jackets play host to #13 Louisville and Clemson. Barring something extremely unforeseen, Tech will most likely start 0-4 in conference.
The Yellow Jackets will then hit the road again for a three-game road trip against NC State, Virginia Tech and Virginia. The Hokies and Cavaliers look to be solid NCAA Tournament teams and the Wolfpack look to make that jump this season, so a win in any of these three also seems unlikely.
The Jackets then return to Atlanta for games against Florida State and Notre Dame before heading back out on the road to take on Clemson and Wake Forest. Tech then plays one last out-of-conference game against Division II Tusculum College.
But then, on February 11, lies Georgia Tech’s best chance for an ACC victory, as the Boston College Eagles come to McCamish Pavilion. Tech and BC were picked to finish 13th and 14th in the conference respectively during the preseason.
The Jackets then round out the schedule at Miami, home for Syracuse and NC State, at Notre Dame, home for Pitt and at Syracuse before heading to Brooklyn for the ACC Tournament.
I dont think anyone has any illusions about what this basketball season is going to be on the whole. But maybe the Yellow Jackets play well enough one particular night to beat a Duke or a Louisville or a North Carolina. Right? Maybe?