Georgia Tech starts off the season in a tough, but fascinating, fashion. They are heading all the way out to Shanghai to face UCLA. This is sure to be interesting as the players adjust to a very different environment. UCLA lost quite a bit of talent, but was the 16th best team in the country last season (according to kenpom) so they figure to be solid again.
Tech then comes home for six straight games. During this stretch they take on a solid looking Northwestern team (38th kenpom) and Tennessee (57th). I expect the Jackets to be out for revenge against the Volunteers after the beatdown last season. The other four home games are part of the “Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase”, a series of 4 games that takes advantage of a loophole in the NCAA rules to only count as one game against the 31-game season limit. This is presumably called the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase because the sales department would have a lot of trouble selling these opponents. The Jackets will face Bethune-Cookman (340th), Texas...Rio Grande Valley (300th), North Texas (320th), and Grambling State (327th). Yikes. A team with postseason ambitions should not be playing four teams who ranked below 300th in the country. Even if they win all of these games, this will kill RPI. And should they lose one of these...well let’s not think about that.
Next, Georgia Tech finally plays their first road game by heading up to Spartanburg, SC to face Wofford. Yes, Wofford. The Terriers finished a respectable 142nd and I’m normally not opposed to taking a road trip to a smaller school, but with how weak the rest of the schedule is it is hard to justify.
Following the brief road trip, the team gets a finals break before they have their final four games during winter break. Three of these games are at home with one on the road. At home the Jackets will face Florida A&M (345th), Wright State (164th), and Coppin State (343rd). Wow. The road game is the annual rivalry game against Georgia. Pastner will looking be looking to get his first win against the Dawgs.
So for those of you who like numbers, I have some to demonstrate how awful this schedule is. This team will play 6 teams who ranked better than 300th last season and 6 teams who ranked worse than 300th. They will face 4 teams from the top-14 conferences and 4 teams from easily the two worst conferences in college basketball (MEAC and SWAC). This is an embarrassment of a schedule for a team that is trying to rise. This is the schedule of a team that knows it is going to get destroyed in conference play so they set up some easy wins in the non-conference. This schedule does not fit this team at all. It guarantees that Tech’s RPI will be crap and will be a major impediment to any post-season hopes.
Not only that, but it is going to hurt the resurgence of Georgia Tech’s fanbase. It is a major problem in college basketball that many fans don’t start paying attention until January 1st. Well with this schedule I can’t blame then one bit. The home schedule features two decent teams (Northwestern and Tennessee), a tough out mid-major (Wright State), and 6 cupcakes. Who is buying season tickets for that?
This team needed to schedule opportunities for premier wins, an RPI friendly schedule, and one that brings excitement to a revitalized fanbase. They did none of those things. Instead Tech is presumably paying money to bring in some very poor basketball teams to beat down in front of dead home crowds.