The release of Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball schedule Thursday put specific dates and some times on what already was a reality — the Yellow Jackets have a tough road ahead, both in nonconference and ACC play.
Tech will play five games against five BCS conference teams in nonconference play, and its 18-game league schedule against the expanded ACC is among the toughest the Jackets have faced — nine games against NCAA tournament teams and another three against NIT teams.
“When you compete in the best basketball conference in the country, the 18-game schedule will again pose a challenge every night,” coach Brian Gregory said in a statement.
The conference schedule includes home-and-home matchups with Duke, Notre Dame and Clemson, home games against North Carolina and Pittsburgh and a road game at Syracuse, a Final Four team last season, on a day’s rest. The league schedule also contains a couple of quirks.
The Jackets will play four consecutive home ACC games for the first time in school history, against Virginia, Boston College, Duke and Clemson in February. They also play three consecutive ACC games on the road, something they haven’t done since the 1989-90 season — at Notre Dame, Florida State and Syracuse between Feb. 26 and March 4. That might be the toughest three-game stretch of the schedule.
Another challenging run comes at the start, at Duke on Jan. 7 and then home against Notre Dame on Jan. 11 and Pittsburgh on Jan. 14. All three teams went to the NCAA tournament last season and were a combined 79-25.
Seven league games will be on one of the ESPN networks, including a Wednesday prime-time matchup against the Tar Heels at McCamish Pavilion on Jan. 29 on ESPN2.
The nonconference highlights include the annual matchup with Georgia (Nov. 15 in Athens, the earliest meeting between the rivals in the history of the series) and a spot in the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., over Thanksgiving weekend. At the Brooklyn arena, Tech will play Mississippi on Nov. 29 and face either Penn State or St. John’s the following day. The Jackets will play Illinois again in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, hoping to avenge last season’s loss in Champaign, Ill. Tech also will play at Vanderbilt on Dec. 21. The Commodores will visit McCamish Pavilion next season.
The five BCS conference opponents in nonconference play are the most since the 2008-09 season. It reflects Gregory’s desire to test an improving team. The Jackets finished 16-15 last season and return 77 percent of their scoring and 72 percent of their minutes from last season’s team.