Georgia Tech’s ACC, nonconference schedules set

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Georgia Tech will begin its ACC men’s college basketball schedule in December with possibly the most demanding assignment that the conference has to offer. The Yellow Jackets’ first league game is set for Dec. 10 at North Carolina, which returns most of its core after its run to the NCAA championship game.

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It’s the first of 20 league games for Tech in coach Josh Pastner’s seventh season, a league schedule that will see the Jackets play Clemson, Louisville, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in home-and-home dates following the league’s scheduling model. The remaining eight teams will play a single game against Tech either at home or on the road.

The opener against UNC will be the second year in a row that Tech starts conference play against the Tar Heels, who defeated the Jackets 79-62 at McCamish Pavilion on Dec. 5. Tech also played UNC in the conference opener in Pastner’s first season, a 75-63 upset victory at McCamish Pavilion on New Year’s Eve 2016.

Tech also released its completed nonconference schedule, which has a curious twist, in that the Jackets will play two home games against Division II schools, Nov. 7 against Clayton State in the season opener and Feb. 18 against Florida Tech. Should Tech be in a position to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid, that could be costly, as a highly significant criterion that the selection committee uses to compare teams is nonconference strength of schedule.

The Florida Tech game falls during Tech’s open date in the ACC schedule. Pastner likes to schedule a game during the team’s open date to keep the players in rhythm, but finding a Division I opponent has proved challenging because potential opponents are in the midst of their own conference schedules. The Clayton State game is more unusual, in that teams generally look to schedule Division I teams for nonconference games in November. Power-conference teams playing a single game against a Division II team, let alone two, is a rarity.

The schedule will have Tech at home for six of its first nine league games. The first three – against Clemson on Dec. 21, Virginia on Dec. 31 and Miami on Jan. 4 – will take place while students are on winter break.

The three consecutive home games will be followed by what could be the most challenging of Tech’s three sets of back-to-back road games – at Florida State on Jan. 7 and at Notre Dame on Jan. 10. The Jackets have lost in eight of their past nine trips to Tallahassee and all eight of their road games against the Fighting Irish since Notre Dame joined the ACC.

On Jan. 28, first-year Duke coach Jon Scheyer, successor to Mike Krzyzewski, will make his first appearance at McCamish Pavilion as the Blue Devils’ coach in Tech’s only regular-season game against Duke.

From a rest perspective, the Jackets fared well with the placement of the games. With all weekend games on Saturdays and all midweek games on either Tuesday or Wednesday, Tech will have at least two days of rest before every league game.

Television assignments or tipoff times for the league games have not been set.