Team: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Head coach: Josh Pastner (five seasons, 82-76)
2020-2021 record: 17-9 overall, 11-6 ACC
Top returning players: 6-foot-5, G, Michael Devoe (15.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg 40% 3P); 6-foot-7, wing, Jordan Usher (11.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.8 apg)
Top newcomers: 6-foot-1, PG, Deivon Smith (5.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg) transfer from Mississippi State; 6-foot-6, 4-star wing, Dallan “Deebo” Coleman (Callahan, Fla.)
2020-2021 review: It was a long 11 years for Georgia Tech fans without NCAA Tournament basketball until ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright and floor general Jose Alvarado led the Yellow Jackets to an ACC Tournament championship last year and a, long awaited, tourney berth.
Unfortunately, 9-seed Ga. Tech drew a first round game with wildly underseeded Loyola (Chicago) and were bounced from the Big Dance after just one game. However, after starting the season with back-to-back losses against Georgia State and Mercer I’m assuming this was a dream year for Josh Pastner’s squad.
Both Wright (17.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg, ACC POTY) and Alvarado (15.2 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.8 spg, ACC DPOY) are gone, but the Yellow Jackets should still be in contention for another tournament berth thanks to who they have returning.
2021-2022 preview: Georgia Tech didn’t have a great defense last season in terms of efficiency or opponent eFG%, but what they did do exceptionally well is force turnovers. They had the second highest steal percentage in the nation and wing Jordan Usher will be leading that charge this season.
Michael Devoe, who can play both guard positions, will be the leader on offense but will need some help with play making, now that Alvarado has graduated. Mississippi State transfer Deivon Smith, a former 4-star recruit, should slot right in as a floor general type for Ga. Tech.
The frontcourt will look a lot different this season with the loss of Wright. 6-foot-10 Rodney Howard and 7-foot-1 Saba Gigiberia will try and man the middle for the Ramblin’ Wreck, but Ga. Tech may also go small and play Usher as five.
This Big Ten/ACC Challenge game will be an excellent test for the Badgers as Georgia Tech has some talented players but will also be going through a bit of a reload/rebuild. If UW can go on the road and pull out a victory it will bode well for the postseason hopes.
Game vs. Wisconsin: Wednesday, Dec. 1; Atlanta, Ga.; McCamish Pavilion; ESPN2; 8:15 p.m. CT