With the season starting this week, the FTRS staff took some time to outline their predictions for the 20’-21’ basketball season.
Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe form the most dangerous backcourt in the ACC. Devoe takes on a larger leadership role and looks the most confident he has looked in a Georgia Tech uniform. Moses Wright slides down to the five and fills right in for the missing production that James Banks left behind. Jordan Usher takes his game to the next level and fills a Dennis Rodman like role for the Jackets, doing a little bit of everything and crashing the glass night after night. The transfers Rodney Howard and Kyle Sturdivant both provide a huge boost and depth for Georgia Tech. An offseason emphasis on turnovers leads to a massive reduction in turnover percentage for a team which finished 345th in the country last year. The Jackets once again finish in the top 5 of the ACC, landing themselves inside the top 25, and securing a top 5 seed in the NCAA tournament.
I’ll avoid the obvious answer here, which is that COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the Yellow Jacket roster, leading many key players to miss significant time or leaving Tech to not even finish the season at all. Instead, I’ll assume Tech remains healthy and completes their season. In this worst-case scenario, the Yellow Jacket offense does not see any significant improvements. Turnovers continue to plague this team and the Tech offense looks stagnant. The lack of size after the departure of James Banks forces the Jackets to play on the perimeter, an area they struggled significantly last season. The new additions to the Georgia Tech roster struggle to find cohesiveness with the returning players. A brutally tough ACC schedule doesn’t allow for the Jackets to find any momentum and they finish with just a handful of wins and secure a spot in the basement of the final ACC standings.
Most Likely Scenario
Taking a page from my best-case scenario, I do believe that Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe will form one of the deadliest backcourts in the ACC. Devoe builds upon last season and looks even more confident. With Wright sliding into the five, Tech struggles a little bit with their lack of size, mostly on the defensive side, where James Banks shot blocking ability will be sorely missed. Offensively, the lack of size is countered by a reduction in turnovers thanks to Jose Alvarado’s senior leadership. The Jackets should dominate their weak non-conference schedule outside of the Kentucky game, which stays close, but Kentucky pulls away with at the end. Tech finishes right around or just below .500 in an extremely tough ACC schedule. They land themselves on the bubble, but end up in the NCAA tournament without too much drama on Selection Sunday.
Tech’s continuity and veteran laden squad proves to be exactly what is needed to succeed in this COVID altered season. They pick up where they left off at the close of last season beating Kentucky with Moses Wright being an interior force and and Alvarado and Devoe combining to form one of the best backcourts in the conference. One of the new faces like Maxwell or Sturdivant proves to be an immediate contributor on the wing allowing for greater lineup flexibility. Usher and Alvarado, who have shown flashes of of an outside shot in the past, become consistent three point threats, turning the Jackets into the high flying offense Josh Partner has always promised. The team finishes with a top 6 NCAA tournament seed and even wins an extra game in March to make it to the Sweet 16. Sure it sounds crazy but hey, it’s 2020.
COVID wreaks havoc on the Jackets and their lack of experienced depth especially on the wing and inside is their undoing. Without the development of another inside presence, Wright moves to center full time and doesn’t embrace the transition. Worse, the team still doesn’t have the floor spacing options developed to make it work. Without James Banks to protect the rim, their defense becomes mediocre and can’t carry an offense that is still one dimensional. The team loses to a cupcake and a bunch of close games in typical fashion and finish outside not only the NCAA bubble but also the NIT.
Most Likely Scenario
The team takes care of business in non conference play with the only loss being to Kentucky. Wright and Devoe take another step forward and are guided by the senior hand of Alvarado. Wright fills in nicely for Banks’ absence at center but the depth around him is inadequate causing some issues. The team is still held back by a lack of floor spacing at the wing and guard positions but overall the team is more careful with ball and doesn’t give games away. It gets a win against one of the big guns in the conference as per usual and picks up enough of them to just sneak into the tournament on the bubble.
Pastner’s get old stay old model works to perfection and gives the Jackets a significant leg up over teams that faced lots of roster turnover in a funky COVID season. Tech picks up right where it ends last season and rattles off 4 straight wins, including one over Pastner’s former boss who is still working out the kinks of a freshman laden team. Devoe and Alvarado lead the way the rest of the season, both making an All-ACC team. In addition, freshman big Saba Gigiberia emerges as a legitimate contributor to help anchor down the frontcourt with Moses Wright. The Jackets finish the season with just 6 blemishes on their resume, with Virginia the only team besting Tech twice. Pastner and company enter the NCAA Tournament as a top 4 seed and march to the Sweet 16 before falling to top seeded Gonzaga.
The Jackets fall flat against the Panthers in the season opener Wednesday night, and the Jackets proceed to drop 3 of their first 5 games. The Jackets get back on track until late January, when they face Duke and UVA back to back on the road. The loss in confidence results in a 6 game losing skid. Jose Alvarado has a “Come to Jesus” meeting with the team and rights the ship down the stretch, finishing 5-1. However, the damage has already been done as Tech finishes 14-13 and misses the NIT. Of course, this doesn’t factor in COVID, which could decimate the roster for extended periods of time and cause additional losses.
Most Likely Scenario
Georgia Tech benefits from a veteran roster early in the season, starting out 6-3 in 2020. Devoe, Alvarado, and Wright take a step forward and Devoe finishes as one of the top 3-point shooters in the ACC. Without Banks, the Jackets take a step back on the defensive end of the floor, but Moses and Gigiberia prove to be serviceable 5’s on the defense. The COVID season should result in more up and down play, allowing Jose and Usher to flourish in transition. Tech take a big step forward on the offensive end and finishes the season 18-9. The Jackets are firmly in and enter the NCAA Tournament as a 9 seed.
Patrick’s Game-by-Game Predictions
|12/25/2020||Georgia Tech||Georgia State||W||W||L|
|12/15/2020||Florida State||Georgia Tech||L||L||L|
|12/18/2020||Georgia Tech||Florida A&M||W||W||W|
|12/20/2020||Georgia Tech||Delaware State||W||W||W|
|12/29/2020||Georgia Tech||North Carolina||L||L||L|
|1/3/2021||Georgia Tech||Wake Forest||W||W||W|
|1/5/2021||Notre Dame||Georgia Tech||W||W||W|
|1/16/2021||NC State||Georgia Tech||W||W||L|
|1/30/2021||Georgia Tech||Florida State||W||W||L|
|2/6/2021||Georgia Tech||Notre Dame||W||W||L|
|2/16/2021||Georgia Tech||Boston College||W||W||W|
|2/23/2021||Virginia Tech||Georgia Tech||W||W||W|
|3/6/2021||Wake Forest||Georgia Tech||W||W||W|
The offensive improvement from the second half of last season continues. Michael Devoe turns into a full on star and a non-stop scorer. The defense continues its high intensity play and Moses Wright and Rodney Howard replace James Banks inside. The Jackets go undefeated in non-conference play (including a huge win against Kentucky) and knock off some top teams in ACC play while mostly taking care of business against the bottom. They finish in the top 4 in the ACC, make a run in the ACC Tournament, and feel very safe on selection day.
Pastner’s offensive struggles continue. Devoe and Alvarado are fine, but nobody else steps up to be even an okay offensive player. Nobody can fill the gap inside except for Moses Wright who gets hurt leaving Tech with a terrible frontcourt. In non-conference play they lose to Kentucky (which isn’t a big deal), but also Georgia State and Nebraska. A much improved ACC shows that last year’s offensive improvement was a mirage. Tech falls back towards the bottom of the ACC and isn’t even remotely in consideration for the Tournament.
Most Likely Scenario
Tech has a solid starting lineup of Alvarado, Devoe, Usher, Wright, and one other player who steps up. Once again, though, the team is shallow and has to give plenty of minutes to players who are below ACC level right now. For the first time in Pastner’s career at Tech the defense doesn’t have a true anchor inside unless Moses can stay out of foul trouble or Howard can get on the court which hurts the defense. They lose to Kentucky and get upset in one other non-conference game (Georgia State? UAB?) They get some big wins in ACC play, but lose to some bottom teams who aren’t pushovers this year. They finish in the middle of the pack in the ACC and are right on the bubble on selection day.
Pastner and his team live up to the hype, which they have done little to dissipate. They get a solid berth in the tournament after a solid conference schedule. They finally “got old and stayed old.”
COVID cancels the season or tournament (worse: because someone on the team gets it) but only we come out of the gates on an absolute tear. Fans talk for years about the Year That Wasn’t. Everyone is sad.
Most Likely Scenario
Tech is a bubble team. With coin flip odds to make the tournament, it really could go either way. No one ever expects nice things from the Powers That Be in the NCAA at Tech, so I may let my cynicism fill in the rest.