Projected record: 19-12 (10-10)
Probable wins (chance of winning > 60%): Miami (OH), Stetson, Lamar, @ georgia, Charleston Southern, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Alabama A&M, @ Boston College, Wake Forest, Miami, Clemson, NC State, @ Pittsburgh, Boston College
Toss up games (chance of winning 40% - 60%): Wisconsin, UNC, LSU, Louisville, Notre Dame, FSU, @ Miami, Virginia Tech, @ Clemson
Probable losses (chance of winning <40%): USC, @ Syracuse, @ Duke, @ UNC, @ VT, @ Virginia, @ Notre Dame
The Jackets enter the 2021-2022 season looking to build on the ACC title winning season last year. Gone are Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado, but this team still has their sights set on a repeat ACC title and getting back to the NCAA tournament once again. I do think that Tech will get there again, but it won’t be easy and they won’t do it without making us sweat. While veteran players like Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher should have big seasons for the Jackets, this team will need significant contributions from a lot of unproven players. I expect the Jackets to have a very strong back-court with the aforementioned Devoe alongside transfer Deivon Smith, a highly athletic floor general point guard and freshmen Deebo Coleman and Miles Kelly who are both electric shooters. What will make or break the season for Georgia Tech will be the play of the front-court. The departure of Moses Wright leaves a large hole in the post for the Jackets. Jordan Usher will certainly see some time there, but against larger teams, Tech may be forced to go bigger and look toward Rodney Howard, Saba Gigiberia, and Jordan Meka, all unproven players. It will be definitely interesting to see if any of those three players can take a substantial leap forward this year with another offseason of development working with coach Reveno.
So where does that leave things as far as my prediction for the season? The Jackets definitely have returning talent and momentum to build on from a season ago. However, there are definitely gaps and question marks as well. I think the talent can ultimately win through and I see the Jackets sitting on the bubble at the end of the regular season with a win record right around or just shy of 20 wins. A tough December stretch of non-conference games against Wisconsin, LSU, and USC may ultimately determine if the Jackets get into the postseason or not. 3-0 in those games and Georgia Tech should be sitting pretty, but finishing 0-3 will most likely require a very strong ACC record.
While I would love to say that Georgia Tech will win the ACC and make the NCAA Tournament and go all the way and have a miracle season, I just don’t see that happening. I think Josh Pastner has the team in a good place, and I’m excited to see what Deebo Coleman can do this season, but not having Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado make me a smidge nervous. I think the team will get better as the season goes along and they make a bit of a run in the ACC Tournament, but I don’t think they win it this year, though they do get a winning record in regular season ACC play. I’ll also say that they win a couple games in the NIT Tournament.
Season prediction: As much as I hate to say it, I think Tech probably starts out slow this year, or at least slower than most would expect. There’s a lot of faces back, sure, but also a lot to figure out, given the departures of key players like Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado, plus the injury to Bubba Parham. That said, Coach Pastner is correct in saying his teams have improved as the year has gone on, at least the past two years. Thus, I think this year could likely play out similar to both - maybe the team starts slow, but with more experience, they start to play a lot better together, too.
We go 18-13 on the season, with 2 extra wins in the ACC tournament. Ends with us being 20-14. We see success coming off of last season. The Frontcourt brings together unity for the team and Devoe takes the helm as the leading scorer. Unfortunately early games once ACC play opens up will lead to the majority of our struggles. The team does come together at the end of the season and ends on a high note, but this does not lead to a NCAA bid. We do manage a bid in the NIT and have a good run to end the season.
Record Prediction: 17-14 (9-11)
How They’ll Get There: The Jackets will start 5-1 with a loss to an overmatched low major school in true Pastner fashion but a win against uga (in non Pastner fashion). They’ll find a way to split the gauntlet that is the next four and eventually head into conference play at 10-3. By this point, coach Pastner knows what it takes to compete in the ACC and I think on almost every night they will do that despite not being as talented as they were last year. I have them just below .500 in the conference based on that and the fact that most of the ACC feels up for grabs (only 4 teams in the pre season Top 25). I can’t imagine the floor for this team is much below that. How high their ceiling can potentially be will hinge on the impact they get from their young wing players. The backcourt is the sturdy base of this team and the center spot will almost certainly be a revolving door. Can guys like Jalon Moore, Tristan Maxwell, and Miles Kelly be difference makers in their first season of real action? If one or two of them can, I could easily see this team winning a few more games. Ultimately, this team has a few too many unproven commodities for me to think they’re a tournament team, but the upside is there.
Season Prediction: 23-8 (12-8)
We come out of the chute strong, learning from last year not to underestimate any opponent and come to play every night. Going into the Wisconsin game the team is undefeated, and while Wisconsin pushes us, we dig deep and find a way to win. In ACC play, our duo of Devoe and Usher are a dependable and steady tandem, and they give the team real confidence. Hard fought battles with the conference elites, winning a few, losing a few, but not looking overmatched in any game. Howard isn’t a big scoring threat, but harnesses his size to be a menace on the boards. Sturdivant really comes into his own as an on ball defender and lethal shooter. The freshman have their moments but make their biggest impacts on defense. More than anything, we see what a difference depth can make, as Tech is able to utilize its bench more than year’s past, keeping our stars fresh down the stretch of games and the season. In the ACC tournament, Tech is a solid 5 seed, and while we do not repeat as Conference tourney champs, we make the NCAA tournament as an 8. Devoe makes First Team All-ACC, Usher second team and one of either Coleman and Kelly make the Freshman team, most likely Kelly. We survive round one of the Big Dance before being shown the door by a superior opponent, but once again Pastner shows he can get the most out of his guys and sets us up for even bigger and better things in 2022 and beyond.
Final Record: 18-13 (10-10)
Postseason: Lose in ACCT Quarterfinals. Be a borderline bubble team, but end up as one of the top lines in the NIT during another down year in the ACC.
What Happened: The Yellow Jackets come into the season with an intriguing mix of proven production and promising talent that hasn’t shown they can play at the ACC level. The good is that several players will show solid improvement. A handful of players like Deivon Smith, Khalid Moore, or Deebo Coleman will show that they’re solid ACC players. Jordan Usher will slide with ease into a bigger offensive role. The real question is depth and size. The team will not be as deep as last year’s team which was already pretty thin. A single injury or two could put this team in serious trouble. The second is that of the proven talent, none are true big men. Over the course of the season the issues with size won’t be catastrophic, but they’ll still struggle against teams with good skill and depth with their bigs. The team will take a while to gel, but the soft beginning of the schedule gives them some time to do that if they can avoid anything too disastrous at the end of the season.
End Result: The team will land in the NIT and make a decent run. After the success of last year’s team this will be somewhat of a disappointment, but not an unexpected one with the departures. This result will keep fans optimistic about the Josh Pastner and the continued improvements in some of his players will set the team up solidly for the future if recruiting can continue to improve (or match this last year’s).
How They’ll Get There: Georgia Tech will be shocked to open the season by Miami (OH) as a team full of upperclassmen get the best of the Jackets. Jordan Usher’s leadership takes over as he helps GT right the ship and rattle off 8 straight wins. The Jackets then fall to the Trojans in the Jerry Colangelo Classic before rebounding in the final two games of non-conference play. In order for conference play to go well, the emergence of a big and freshman will be necessary. Fortunately, I think the Jackets do just that as Deebo Coleman and Saba will become impact players. However, I think where Georgia Tech will really make their money is in small ball. The combination of Deivon, Usher, and Khalid will prove to be stifling defensively. Forcing turnovers will be a staple of this team, leading to elite fast break play from Deivon who can easily take it himself or dish it to Devoe or Deebo from long range. Devoe will continue to develop and find himself as the Jackets leading scorer and on an All-ACC team. All of this will result in a 20-11 regular season finish, 11-9 finish in ACC play, and back to back tournament berths.