The B1G-ACC Challenge
Let me just get my bias out in the open right away: I loathe just about everything to do with ACC basketball and every last team, coach, and fan involved with it. Even when they blatantly cheat, they get away with it (I wish I could have gotten a degree from UNC without actually taking real classes). Ok, so Louisville did get to cheat Michigan out of a title in 2013 and I am 100% happy about that, but I will hold a grudge over UNC in Detroit in 2009 (and the fact they weren’t stripped of the title) until I stop breathing on my death-bed.
With that out of the way, the match-ups this year are a great overall set. The B1G will hopefully improve its abysmal 5-12-3 record as a conference in the Challenge, and Nebraska can certainly help with that. Nebrasketball can be proud of the fact they are one of only two B1G teams with a winning record in the Challenge. Nebraska has a 5-3 record (.625), are 2-2 at home and 3-1 on the road including a win at Clemson last season. Purdue is the other with a 10-8 (.556) record. Flopsconsin and Penn St. are both .500 at 10-10 and 9-9 respectively. After that, every B1G team has a losing record as a member of the B1G. Maryland is 0-5 in the challenge since joining, but was 10-5 as a member of the ACC. Anybody else not really fearing the turtle here?
To give a brief recap of Nebraska’s history in the challenge and how the B1G fared:
2018 Win at Clemson 68-66 (Tied 7-7)
2017 Win over Boston College 71-62 (ACC 11-3)
2016 Loss at Clemson 60-58 (ACC 9-5)
2015 OT Loss to Miami 77-72 (B1G 8-6)
2014 Win at Florida State 70-65 (B1G 8-6)
2013 Win over Miami 60-49 (Tie 6-6)
2012 Win at Wake Forest 79-63 (Tie 6-6)
2011 Loss to Wake Forest 55-53 (B1G 8-4)
The challenge match-ups overall this year including Nebraska are:
Monday, December 2
Miami at Illinois
Clemson at Minnesota
Tuesday, December 3
Florida State at Indiana
Iowa at Syracuse
Michigan at [Vacated] Louisville
[F***] Duke at Michigan State
NU at Boston College
Rutgers at Pitt
Wednesday, December 4
Notre Dame at Maryland
Nebraska at Georgia Tech
Ohio State at [Fake Classes] North Carolina
Wake Forest at Penn State
Virginia at Purdue
Wisconsin at NC State
Date: Wednesday, December 3rd TBA
Location: McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, GA
2018-2019 Season Record: 14-18
2018-2019 Conference Record: 6-12 (10th)
Conference: ACC (aka Satan’s conference)
1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe Buzz, the yellowjacket that has evolved to possess arms
Head Coach: Josh Pastner
Entering his 4th season as head coach with a career record at GT of 48-53 and ACC record of 20–34. Despite a losing record in conference play his first season that saw Tech finish in 11th place with a record of 8-10, Pastner was selected as ACC Coach of the Year largely due to upset wins over North Carolina, Florida State, and Notre Dame with a bare-bones roster. Overall in that first season, Georgia Tech finished 21-16 and made it to the NIT Finals.
Prior to GT, Pastner spent seven years at Memphis, finishing 167-73 overall and 82-37 in conference including four straight NCAA appearances from 2011-2014, making the second round the last two trips. He was also Conference USA Coach of the Year at Memphis in 2010 and 2013.
Coach Pastner was a four year letter winner at Arizona (*cough* cheaters) from 1996-2000. He went on to be the Video/Recruiting Coordinator at Arizona from 2000-2002 (so I personally want a blowout win in retaliation for 2001 obviously), an Assistant Coach at Arizona until 2008, and then one season at Memphis as an Assistant before being elevated to Head Coach.
If 14-18 wasn’t obvious enough to you all: Georgia Tech stunk last year. While Nebraska’s 17-16 record wasn’t much better at first glance, the Huskers SOS was 39th and their RPI was 93 compared to Tech’s 152nd RPI ranking on a 69th ranked SOS. They lost to freaking Northwestern (196th RPI) in the B1G-ACC challenge for crying out loud (the same Wildcats team that would go on to lose 12 of their final 13 games, including two losses to Illinois). They only had two wins over opponents with an RPI over 100, one at NC State (97th) and one at Syracuse (38th, and a month before Coach Boeheim’s tragic car accident). After that, the nicest thing you can say about them is they had a pulse in a close loss to Virginia Tech at home and on the road to St. John’s.
Georgia Tech returns most of their production from last season, but have a few notable losses. Gone is guard Curtis Haywood II and his 21.7 minutes a game that saw 2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 2.7 rebounds, and 5.6 points. Also gone is forward Obdoulaye Gueye who chipped in with 6.6 points a game and 3.7 rebounds in 17.3 minutes while averaging 51.9% field goal shooting.
Key returnees include leading scorer, assists, and steals, guard Jose Alvarado, who averaged 12.5 points a game, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.8 rebounds. He shot only 28.6% from behind the arc, and 39.2% from inside, so there is certainly room for improvement. Leading rebounder and shot blocker for the team, forward/center James Banks III also returns, averaging 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game in 30.3 minutes. Banks is a Texas transfer and played basketball in high school with current NBA players Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jordan Poole. The team as a whole averaged only 30.7% from behind the arc and 68.9% from the charity stripe.
Expected players to step up will include USC transfer Jordan Usher (who won’t be eligible to play yet at the time of their game with the Huskers) and rising sophomore Michael Devoe. Devoe had a great showing in Tech’s Spain trip that just wrapped up. He scored 14 points in the first game and 13 in the second. The Yellowjackets went 4-0 overall, only seeing one game particularly close in play. Their three point shooting improved marginally to 34.2%, but this was also from the new distance DI basketball will see starting this season. Coach Pastner used the trip overseas to Spain to work on a more up-tempo pace, but saw a lot of turnovers on outlet passes. The Huskers might want to keep that in mind come December’s trip to Atlanta.
This won’t necessarily be an easy win, but Nebraska should end up doing their part to leave with a win for the B1G. Because I am really that incredibly petty of a human being and will never let 2001 go, I will pick a Nebrasketball win in this game of 80-61. GBR!