|11/5/2016||Shorter (exhibition)||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
|11/11/2016||Tennessee Tech||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
|11/18/2016||Ohio||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
|11/22/2016||Sam Houston State||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
|11/26/2016||Tulane||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
|11/29/2016||Penn State (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)||Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.||TBA|
|12/3/2016||Tennessee||Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.||TBA|
|12/7/2016||VCU||Siegel Center, Richmond, Va.||TBA|
|12/18/2016||Alcorn State||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
|12/20/2016||Georgia||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
|12/22/2016||Wofford||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
|12/28/2016||North Carolina A&T||McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
Georgia Tech has released the OOC schedule for Josh Pastner’s first season on the Flats. For the first time in several years, Georgia Tech will not be participating in an early season tournament, and that contributes to a relatively easy schedule to hopefully get this team some wins and confidence going into ACC play. With the major turnover on the team, giving the team time to gel and hopefully get rolling going into conference play makes sense.
Not counting the exhibition against Shorter, the Jackets have two 4 game home stands bookending a three game road trip. Unfortunately for fans, three of the four best teams on GT’s schedule come on the road. The season begins with a two week stretch at McCamish against Tennessee Tech, Ohio, Sam Houston State, and Tulane. Of these four, only Ohio was any good and they were still ranked only 139th in the country by kenpom. The other three teams were all ranked below 200. The Tulane game is a return game after the Georgia Tech victory at Tulane last season. Even if Georgia Tech is very down this season, they should still come out of this stretch with at least two wins and starting 4-0 is very possible.
That leads into the difficult stretch of the season. To start it off, the Jackets are heading to State College to take on Penn State in the Big 10-ACC challenge. The Nittany Lions were ranked 146th in the country last season, but they return most of their production, although they lost star Brendan Taylor, and have had several strong recruiting classes. Many people expect improvement from Penn State, but I remain skeptical as Pat Chambers has yet to lead them to even the NIT through five seasons. Next, the Jackets head for the return match against Tennessee. The Jackets beat the Volunteers in a nail biter early last season. After that game, Tennessee struggled and ended up finishing 119th in the country. They lose three of their top four scorers and have six incoming freshmen so they will also be trying to get their team to mesh early in the season. Finally, the Jackets head to Richmond to face VCU. The Rams ended up being GT’s signature OOC win last season and finished ranked 30th in the country by kenpom. They were a 10 seed in the tournament and made it to the second round where they lost a close one against final four team Oklahoma. They lose some stars in Melvin Johnson and Korey Billbury, but they have plenty of talent remaining and they show no signs of slowing down post-Shaka Smart. This will be the Jackets toughest OOC games. This isn’t murderers row, but it will be tough for the Jackets to come out of this stretch with more than one win.
Following the road trip, the Jackets come home to face Alcorn State, Georgia, Wofford, and North Carolina A&T. Out of these, the only tough team is Georgia. The Bulldogs beat the Jackets last season, breaking a four year win streak for Tech. They finished 70th in the country last season. They lose solid players Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann, but return their two best players in JJ Frazier and Yante Maten. The Bulldogs should be about the same level as last assuming they can find any support for Frazier and Maten. Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T should be easy wins as they were both ranked around 300 or below last season, but there might not be any easy wins for the Jackets this year. Wofford ranked 185th and could be a challenging game if the Terriers see some improvement.
This is certainly not an exciting schedule, but with how much turnover this team has seen, an easy straight forward schedule is probably best. This team has some hopefully easy wins on the schedule in the likes of Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T, as well as the opportunity to beat some name teams in Georgia, Tennessee, and Penn State.