Georgia Tech-UGA basketball game looking unlikely

Georgia's Rayshaun Hammonds (20) shoots as Georgia Tech forward James Banks III defends. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

Credit: Joshua L. Jones

Credit: Joshua L. Jones

Georgia's Rayshaun Hammonds (20) shoots as Georgia Tech forward James Banks III defends. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

The door has not closed completely on the Georgia-Georgia Tech men’s basketball game being played for the 96th consecutive year, but it’s going that way. As constituted, Tech’s schedule does not leave room for the annual rivalry game with the Bulldogs.

“Georgia Tech and UGA would really like to play this year,” Tech coach Josh Pastner wrote in a text message to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Due to scheduling conflicts that are outside of both Georgia Tech and Georgia’s control, there could be a high possibility that the game might not happen this year.”

While not final, the partial schedule posted on Tech’s website can’t accommodate Georgia. The Yellow Jackets can play seven non-conference games this year as opposed to the standard 11 because of the NCAA’s decision to reduce the maximum number of regular-season games and also delay the start of the season from Nov. 10 to Nov. 25. The team has already scheduled six of them, starting with the season opener against Georgia State at McCamish Pavilion on Nov. 25. The final opening is committed to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

It’s conceivable that the Tech-UGA game still could be played, as Tech’s schedule remains subject to change. It would be potentially viable even after the season begins, as the NCAA’s guidance on contact tracing for basketball could well create havoc with scheduling.

If a player, coach or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, or an opponent within 48 hours of a contest, the NCAA has advised all team members to be quarantined for 14 days. Pastner acknowledged the difficulty that teams nationwide will face in avoiding scheduling complications.

“We want to win, we want to get to the (NCAA) tournament,” he said. “We want to do all those things. But the first order of business is, let’s just try to get in 27 games.”

Regardless, both teams are not planning on facing each other. Like the Tech-UGA football series that was paused this year, the basketball rivalry has been played annually without interruption starting in 1925. The Bulldogs have won the past five games in the series. This year’s game was scheduled to be played at McCamish Pavilion.

After the season-opening Georgia State game, Tech’s non-conference follows with games with Mercer on Nov. 27, Kentucky on Dec. 6 (at State Farm Arena), Florida A&M on Dec. 18, Delaware State on Dec. 20 and at Alabama-Birmingham on Dec. 23.

The Big Ten/ACC Challenge game – opponent and site to be determined – is likely to be played Dec. 8 or 9. Tech is also expecting to play two league games in December, one around the 15th and one close to New Year’s Eve.