Sophomore Guard Curtis Haywood (photo courtesy of ramblinwreck.com)

Josh Pastner and the Yellow Jackets hit the road for the second time this season on Wednesday, heading to Evanston, Illinois to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. The game is part of the annual ACC/B1G challenge and will tip at 9:15 pm on ESPNU.

The Yellow Jackets are competing in the challenge for the 18th time and have a record of 7-10. You might be thinking that Northwestern is a familiar foe. You would be correct. This will be the fifth time that Georgia Tech and Northwestern face off in the challenge. The two met in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2017 and again this year. In the four previous match ups the Jackets are 3-1, including two wins at Welsh-Ryan Arena and each of the last three games. The average margin of victory is 8.8 points in those four games, the largest being 20 (Northwestern) and the slimmest being 1 (Tech last season).

Currently, according to KenPom, Northwestern is a 68-61 favorite. Georgia Tech is currently 77th in the Pomeroy rankings, while Northwestern is 46th.

While Georgia Tech is mostly led by freshman and sophomores, Northwestern has a lot of veteran leadership. Seniors Vic Law and Derek Pardon have a combined 187 collegiate contests under their belt at the Big 10 level. Two very talented transfers, Ryan Taylor (Evansville) and A.J. Turner (Boston College), bookend the Wildcat staples with 158 more games played. All four players average double figures on the season. The leader of the group is Law, who after a somewhat underwhelming career, has seemingly come into his own as a senior. He currently leads Northwestern in points (18.5), assists (3.0) and blocks (1.5).

Northwestern's strength this season is their defense. While some of the numbers are currently skewed by their offensive tempo, they are currently surrendering 61 ppg (27th in the nation) and allowing 31% from behind the arc. Of course, their strength of schedule is also currently 254th in the country.

Northwestern is led by Chris Collins, who is currently in his sixth season in Evanston. He has compiled a record of 93-78 overall and a 36-54 in the Big 10. The Wildcats are still seemingly cruising after a 2016-17 season that saw them go 24-12 with an invitation to the prom for the first time in program history. That season was highlighted by a last second shot by Derek Pardon versus Michigan. They ended up losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Gonzaga. They parlayed that success into a preseason top 25 ranking last year but ultimately under-performed. They were out of the rankings by week 3 and have yet to return.

If this game was in Atlanta I would be tempted to take the Jackets. Though Georgia Tech performed well in Knoxville, I still can't get behind such a young team on the road. I expect the good guys to cover but the Wildcats to win. They have the star power in Law and a quality big man in Pardon that could ultimately negate James Banks, who is still rounding into form. Taylor and Turner have the length and experience to handle players like Brandon Alston, Curtis Haywood and Mike Devoe.

Then again, Northwestern doesn't have a point guard. Georgia Tech has one with an attitude. One that really hates to lose. One that just recently willed his team to victory in a game in which they struggled a great deal. Can you really bet against Jose Alvarado when he plays with a chip on his shoulder? Will Haywood and Devoe combine to go 1-7 from deep two games in a row? Smart money says, emphatically, no.

I have no idea who is going to win, but I think it is going to be extremely tight wire to wire.

Transfer center James Banks (photo credit to The Athletic)

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets look to continue to protect their home court Friday, hosting the Prairie View A&M Panthers. The game tips at 4:00pm EST and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

Pastner's Yellow Jackets are 3-0 at home this year and 18-4 in out of conference home games during his tenure. Currently, Georgia Tech ranks #71 in the KenPom rankings while Prairie View A&M sits at #277. Prairie View A&M averages 69 points per game on offense and surrenders 74.8 on the the season. Kenpom predicts a final score of 78-62 in favor of the good guys for this one.

The Panthers come into the game with a 1-5 record. They are led by fourth year coach Byron Smith. During his tenure the Panthers have a record of 36-49 and have never finished with a winning record. It should be noted that he has only coached two full seasons. They are a member of the Southwest Athletic Conference. A traditional one bid league, the SWAC has been represented in the NCAA tournament by Texas Southern in 4 of the last 5 NCAA tournaments.

Smith's crew comes into McCamish with a back court trio of guards that can score the ball. Seniors Gary Blackston and Taishaun Johnson along with junior Gerard Andrus combine to average 37.8 points per game so far this season. Though they are led by their backcourt, the Panthers are not a threat from deep. They currently rank 334th in the nation, shooting 25.5% from three. They are however 50th in nation in three point percentage allowed at 27.7%.

The Panthers are led by junior Devonte Patterson in the paint. An undersized post, Patterson averages 12.8 points and 7 rebounds per game. He is not much of a rim protector, collecting just 2 blocks in four games.

The Jackets and Panthers have three common opponents so far this season. While Tech is 3-0 against Lamar, UTRGV and East Carolina, Prairie View lost to all three squads. Those games are all part of the Panther's current five game losing streak. The first game of that streak was a loss at Baylor, a game in which Prairie View actually hung around, eventually falling 91-80. To date, the Bears are the only power 5 school that the Panthers have faced. It should be noted that the Panthers did play UNC-Greensboro tough in Greensboro, only falling by 8 points.

This is a game that the Yellow Jackets should handle quite easily. It's not a game that I would expect to see Evan Cole, as his presence is most likely unnecessary. My prediction for today is that James Banks has a big day. The transfer big man saw his minutes played jump from 16 to 19 last game and given the energy and rim protection he brings, I think that trend continues. He is currently averaging 16.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per 40 minutes played through his first three games.

In light of Prairie View A&M's poor shooting, I would expect Pastner's crew to sag a bit and pack the paint, daring the Panthers to shoot. Missed long shots typically lead to long rebounds which could lead to easy baskets in transition for the Jackets. The line for this game has moved from GT(-14.5) to (-16.5) and back down to (-16). Pastner and the Jackets should cover easily at home.

Josh Pastner's Jackets to host ECU on 11/16

Fresh off a hard fought game against Tennessee, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will host the Eastern Carolina Pirates on Friday night. The game will be broadcast on ACCNE at 7:30pm.

So who is Eastern Carolina? Well aside from being the largest school in North Carolina and being known as the NC "party school", they are currently making their way into the conversation as the up and coming program in the American Athletic Conference. The ECU program made a fantastic hire during the offseason, luring Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley away from Fort Myers.

Dooley spent time in the Bill Self coaching tree prior to his hiring at FGCU. He was widely known to be one of the Jayhawk's most effective recruiters early in the Self era, credited with landing players such as Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor and Mario Chalmers. In 2013 he left Lawrence for Fort Myers for his second head coaching position, replacing Andy Enfield after he departed for USC. In five seasons at FGCU he made the NCAA tournament twice and the NIT twice. He won 21 games or more in all five seasons and never finished worse than second in the Atlantic Sun Conference. He departed the Eagles with a 114-58 record.

The interesting thing about Dooley is that he was actually the Head Coach of the Pirates before this season. He led the purple and black from 1995-1999 after Eddie Payne departed for Oregon State. During his first stint at ECU, Dooley went 57-52.

The Pirates come into the GT game with a 2-1 record, averaging 79 points per game. ECU also played Lamar early in the 2018-19 season, a game in which they needed overtime to win. ECU has an ACC flavor as Dooley brought on former Virginia Tech Assistant Coach Steve Roccaforte, who in turn brought former Hokie Seth LeDay with him. He's also bringing former Hokies Tyrie Jackson and Khadim Sy in for the 2019 class.

LeDay has led the Pirates through the first three games, averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Freshman Jayden Gardner and sophomore K.J. Davis give Dooley a nice duo to back up LeDay, combining to score 25 points and snag better than 12 rebounds per contest early in the 2018-19 season.

The straw that stirs the drink is senior point guard Isaac Fleming. The former Hawaii Rainbow Warrior has been a fantastic addition to the Pirate program, averaging 12.2 points, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game through 33 games. Fleming is solid but does not provide an outside threat, shooting less than 28% from deep over the course of his career.

Strangely enough, one of Georgia's own is the player that concerns me. Freshman Tae Hardy, a Miller Grove product, has played well early for the Pirates. The 6'3" guard averages 9 points, 2.7 rebounds, an assist and a steal per game early in his career. He likes to jump passing lanes and get out in the open court. He could be a huge X-factor in this game.

At the end of the day it's hard to predict what we will see here. This is a new coach with a new program who has yet to stock the pond with his players. Dooley keeps the tempo pretty low and doesn't historically play a ton of defense (according to KenPom).

Given the most recent performance by the Jackets against Tennessee, I can't imagine the spread is going to be crazy. I do like the Jackets to cover in this contest if the spread is set at single digits. East Carolina is not Tennessee. I think this is the game where Jose Alvarado and Shembarri Phillips both get right.

Video courtesy of ACC Digital Network

ATLANTA, GA – Coming into Saturday’s game under the lights at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech and Miami were both 5-4 and seeking a win to secure bowl eligibility. After a game Paul Johnson characterized as “one of the weirdest” he’s been a part of, Georgia Tech came out on top and secured a postseason bid.

In a match-up familiar to both coaches, Mark Richt came into Atlanta having won the last several of his match-ups at Bobby Dodd Stadium. After Miami's opening drive, it looked like his team had all the momentum to continue that streak. Miami drove down the field in 11 plays, covering 75 yards in a little under five and a half minutes. Of the 75 yards gained, 60 came through 3 passes by starting quarterback N’Kosi Perry. The remaining 15 yards came via 8 rushes, a tone set by Georgia Tech’s run defense throughout the game.

Georgia Tech immediately regained the momentum, scoring 14 points in quick succession after a 75 yard touchdown drive of their own and a fumble recovery on the subsequent kickoff, punching it in to double their score after starting on Miami’s 23 yard line.

Georgia Tech scored another 3 points via a Wesley Wells field goal late in the second quarter, and seemed poised to take a 17-7 lead into halftime until Miami recovered a rugby punt that ricocheted off a Georgia Tech player. The Hurricanes punched it in off the short field for another 7 points themselves. Heading into and immediately out of halftime, Miami seemed to hold all of the momentum.

That was until Brad Stewart fought off a defender to haul in a 31 yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback TaQuon Marshall. Marshall went 3-4 on the day for 73 yards and a touchdown, and rushed 24 times for another 92 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tech’s offense had 304 total yards to Miami’s 299, 231 of which came on 53 rushing attempts. Georgia Tech rushed for 4.4 yards a carry against one of the nation’s top defenses that until then had limited their opponents to about 3 yards a carry.

Stewart's touchdown grab put the Jackets up 27-14 late in the 3rd quarter. By the time Mark Richt abandoned the run that Tech’s defense had stuffed all game, a 4th quarter touchdown drive led by Perry through the air was too little, too late. Tech received the ball with just under 7 minutes left in the game and never gave it back, finishing out a gutty 27-20 victory over a team that in recent years seemed to have their number.

With this win, Georgia Tech now stands at 6-4 and has secured bowl eligibility, which seemed improbable after a dismal 1-3 start to their campaign. Where Tech stands now is a testament to the players rallying together and, instead of pointing fingers, lifting themselves and one another up through hard work and achieving what few thought possible just a few weeks into the season. As TaQuon Marshall said after the game, “these next two weeks are going to be fun.”

Multiple Staff Members Contributed To This Article

Sophomore PG Jose Alvarado returns healthy to start the year.

Coach Pastner and the Jackets kick of year three with a home opener against Lamar this week. Here is what you can expect.

The Georgia Tech men's basketball team opens the season on Friday, November 9th at home against Lamar. The Jackets come into the 2018-19 with a lot of question marks that will be answered soon enough. Let's just take it one game at a time. First, let's take a look at Lamar.

The Lamar Cardinals are a Southland Conference program. For those of you who are not familiar with that conference, it's the one that Stephen F. Austin blows through each season. They are led by sixth year head coach Tic Price who has coached New Orleans, Memphis and McNeese State as well. He has a career record of 232-189. Last season he led Lamar to a 19-14 record overall, 11-7 in conference play.

Similar to Georgia Tech, Lamar has a lot of question marks this season. They lost 5 of their top 7 scorers from and 58% of their offensive production. Nick Garth and Josh Nzeakor both return however. Garth, a 5'11 guard, who averaged 13.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season. He shot 37.8% from deep and has made 238 triples in his career. Nzeakor is an undersized front court player, standing 6'6 and 207 pounds, but averaged 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in 17-18.

The Cardinals welcome a quartet of JUCO transfers this season, the best of which seems to be Edwin Jeudy. Jeudy is a 6'7 forward who averaged a double double at Gillette last season logging 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Christian Barrett, another undersized JUCO forward, averaged 10.6 and 9.1 at Jacksonville. He is 6'6 and effective on the offensive glass, but I am not sure that will translate at the NCAA level. Vince Holmes is another incoming JUCO who has good size at the guard spot, but isn't much of a shooter. Brandon Battle is a physical specimen at 6'7 playing the three, but doesn't provide much floor stretching ability.

All in all, this is a favorable match-up for the Yellow Jackets. This should provide the guys an opportunity to get off to a good start on the season as they should physically and athletically dominate this Lamar team. This is the type of game where you could see Moses Wright be dominant as he often was against lesser opponents last season.

What I am really interested to see here is how freshman Michael Devoe plays after sitting out most of the preseason with a toe injury. Other interests include how Jose Alvarado and Curtis Haywood III are recovering from injuries.

I would also like to see senior AD Gueye impose his will on offense. I wouldn't mind seeing him be a black hole in this game. That move over the left shoulder was automatic at one point last season and he should go back to that well early and often this year. He needs to establish himself as an offensive threat early this season.

As we learned in 2017-18, no victory is guaranteed, but the Jackets should be able to outclass the Cardinals in this contest. Anything other than a convincing victory may raise questions about Coach Josh Pastner's effectiveness, especially after the departure of Coach Tavaras Hardy in the offseason.