This is GT’s toughest Non-con schedule in years, not that that is saying much. Weak early schedules have been a constant since I first got to Tech in 2012. It is a bit of an odd choice to have this tougher schedule with a young team, but maybe they are confident on making it to the tournament this year.
The season starts relatively easy. It starts November 7th at home against Clayton State. This is just a primer, but it should let us see if who might be the primary scorer on this team and who is starting. They follow that up by heading down the street to open Georgia State’s new arena. Georgia State isn’t supposed to be that good this year, but I think Josh Pastner has learned his lesson about overlooking the Panthers in the early season. Then the Yellow Jackets welcome Northern Illinois to town. The Huskies are usually good at football, but not at basketball. Kenpom projects them as just 284th in the nation this year. The Yellow Jackets really should be 3-0 through this point. Less would be a disappointment.
Next the Yellow Jackets head to Fort Myers for the Fort Myers tip-off. They start with a game against Utah. The Utes are projected to be better than the Jackets, but at 72nd nationally they are very beatable. Depending on who wins and loses GT will then face either Marquette or Mississippi State. The Bulldogs (#53) and Marquette (#76) are projected in the same range as Utah. I’d like to see GT come out of this with at least one win. Two wins would be fantastic.
Next they get a home matchup against North Alabama which should be an automatic win and a lead up to the hardest game of the non-con schedule, a road game against Iowa in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Iowa may have lost Keegan Murray to the draft, but they will be good again this year. Their offense is always formidable so this will be a test if the Yellow Jackets have the firepower to keep up.
Then we hit the final stretch of the non-conference season. A home game against Northeastern (#237) tees up the most important game of the non-con, Georgia. The Bulldogs are projected slightly better than GT at #93, but the game is being played at McCamish. Let’s see if the Jackets can welcome new uga coach Mike White to the rivalry with a big win.
After one game in ACC play the Jackets finish off the non-con schedule with a home game against Alabama State. Tech really, really, really, should win this game (ASU is ranked #340) but I can’t trust a Pastner team against an HBCU.
Georgia Tech also welcomes Florida Tech during the bye week in ACC play.
Last year was a second consecutive major down year for the ACC. Things seemed to turn around in the NCAA Tournament and the league should be a little bit better this year, although far from the glory years. Unfortunately for GT they are being picked near unanimously to be at the bottom of the conference. Kenpom projects them to go 6-14 and are outright favored in only two games.
The Yellow Jackets get basically the easiest possible schedule here. They face six teams twice. Three of them (Louisville, Pitt, and NC State) are projected firmly in the bottom third of the conference with Syracuse, Clemson projected in the bottom middle of the conference. Only Notre Dame is seen as a potentially good team and they’re only seen as a borderline NCAA Tournament team.
The conference season starts once again with UNC. This seems to be becoming a trend. Hopefully this is reminiscent of the 2016-17 season when a lowly ranked GT team smoked a high ranked UNC team in the opening game of the ACC season en route to the NIT.
Between UNC and Virginia the Yellow Jackets face their two toughest tests in the first three ACC games. Meanwhile Georgia Tech could very well win 5 of their last 6. They just have to get there in a good spot.