Coming off yet another huge upset win, the Yellow Jackets will host another of the hottest teams in the Atlanta Coast Conference Saturday as the Fighting Irish travel to Atlanta.
Continuing their already impressive 2016-17 campaign, Georgia Tech basketball (12-8, 4-4) has already taken down a pair of top ten teams, and is even in conference play after eight ACC games.
Under first year head coach Josh Pastner, the Yellow Jackets have already far surpassed the expectations of most experts and pundits, and have done so with one of the least experienced teams in all of college basketball.
Saturday, a sold-out McCamish will host the No. 14/12 ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (17-4, 6-2) to face Georgia Tech in conference play.
With Saturday’s game, the Jackets will have faced, in order, teams ranked No. 9, 8, 9, 16, 6 and 14. All of those games were in ACC play, and were played consecutively.
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Last Time Out:
Anyone reading this, already knows what happened on Wednesday night when the Jackets dismantled No. 6 Florida State in dominating fashion, 78-56.
“We’ll continue to get better,” Josh Pastner said of his Yellow Jackets squad.
Looking back on the start of the 2016-17 season, Pastner said “I don’t ever forget the first game, in the first exhibition game, we had to go to overtime to beat Shorter. We’ve come a long way, and we’ve gotten a lot better, and we got lucky to win that game versus Shorter, a Division II team.”
Know the Opponent:
First facing off in the 1940-41 season, Georgia Tech leads Notre Dame 8-6, historically. Last season, the Irish won in South Bend, while the Jackets won game two in Atlanta. Tech is 5-1 versus Notre Dame all-time at home.
The Irish are 3-1 on the road so far this season, and are coming off a 71-54 loss to Virginia at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend. Notre Dame currently has four players averaging at least 14.0 points-per-game this season.
Notre Dame associate head coach Rod Balanis is a Georgia Tech alum, having played for the legendary Bobby Cremins on the Flats from 1990-94.
Players to Watch:
Georgia Tech: F Quinton Stephens
The three point ball played a big part in Virginia’s upset of the Fighting Irish in South Bend, and for that reason, it’ll be important for Tech keep the game close throughout on Saturday. When the Jackets need the long ball, Quinton Stephens has gotten the job done for his team. For Tech to beat the Irish, they’ll need a big afternoon from the hometown senior.
Notre Dame: G Steve Vasturia
To get back on track after a demoralizing home loss, the Irish will need senior leadership on the court, and the man for the job is guard Steve Vasturia. Averaging nearly 15 points, and just shy of four rebounds a game, Vasturia will need to set the pace for his team Saturday to get Notre Dame back in the win column.
The Jackets will have home court advantage on their side, and most of a sold out McCamish Pavilion crowd behind them Saturday, so it should be easier to avoid a letdown like the team had at Duke after the big North Carolina win.
Tech is fresh off a win, and the Irish are coming off a disappointing loss to the Cavaliers at home.
Georgia Tech has all the tools needed to take down Notre Dame for a second consecutive upset, and I’ll go out on a limb and call the game in favor of the Yellow Jackets.