Georgia Tech (2-0, 0-0 ACC) vs. UMass Lowell (2-0, 0-0 AE)
Last Season’s Records: Georgia Tech - (15-18); UMass Lowell - (26-8)
KenPom Rankings: Georgia Tech - 119; UMass Lowell - 140
Efficiency Rankings: Georgia Tech - Offense 86th, Defense 179th; UMass Lowell - Offense 172nd, Defense 117th.
KenPom Prediction: Georgia Tech 77 - 72 UMass Lowell. Georgia Tech is given a 66% chance to win.
About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell, under the guidance of head coach Pat Duquette for the past 10 years, finally had a breakout season last year and aims to replicate that success this season. After nine consecutive losing campaigns and a cumulative overall record of 110-155 over that period, the River Hawks went 26-8 last season. Unfortunately, they fell to Vermont in the conference championship game, preventing the team from making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2013.
UMass Lowell returns three starters from last season’s team and was selected by the media to finish second in the America East conference, narrowly behind Vermont, who has won seven straight regular-season conference titles. While they returned three starters, they lost last season’s leading scorer, Everette Hammond, to graduation. Expected to step up and fill his shoes is Abdoul Karim Coulibaly, named to the 2022-23 Second-Team All-Conference and selected to this season’s Preseason All-Conference Team. Last year, Coulibaly averaged 11 points and 8 rebounds per game, including a 57% shooting percentage from the field. Senior guard Ayinde Hikim, who also averaged double-digit scoring last season, is averaging 20 points per game through the first two games of the season.
The River Hawks are off to a 2-0 start this year, defeating Dartmouth and Division III Rivier. While the competition has been weak, UMass Lowell has won the two games by a combined 78 points, shooting 54% from the field in those victories.
The Jackets face their toughest test of the young season on Tuesday evening. UMass Lowell should be a more challenging opponent than both Howard and Georgia Southern. If the Jackets deliver another performance like the narrow victory against Howard, it could lead to an upset loss. UMass Lowell is one of the smaller teams in Division I, which is good news for a Georgia Tech team that has struggled to rebound well in the first two games. My prediction for this one? A narrow Georgia Tech victory.