Georgia Tech basketball will have another early season test on Saturday when they take on the St. John’s Red Storm.
Entering Saturday, the Georgia Tech basketball team has a 4-2 record and is coming off a narrow loss to Northwestern. The 67-61 loss could have been much worse, as the Jackets trailed the Wildcats 40-20 at halftime. Unfortunately, outscoring Northwestern 41-27 in the second half was not enough for the Yellow Jackets to complete what would have been an amazing comeback.
The Wildcats are 6-1 now on the season and 4-0 at home. Without a doubt, they were the second-best team the Jackets have faced early on this season, only behind Tennessee. That being said, it won’t get any easier on Saturday however for the Jackets as they will take on the St. John’s Red Storm.
The Red Storm are off to a 6-0 start on the season and in the NCAA’s most recent NET ranking, St. John’s is currently ranked 20th in the country, only two spots behind the Tennessee Volunteers and 42 spots above Northwestern. As of now, St. John’s is the best team the Jackets will face for the remainder of their non-conference schedule.
That being said, St. John’s this season hasn’t had the hardest schedule so far, their best opponent on the season has been the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who are currently ranked 49th in the NET ranking. No other team they have played is currently in the top 100 of the NET ranking. That being said, the numbers speak for themselves and St. John’s is putting up impressive numbers so far this season.
Through six games, St. John’s is averaging 83.0 points per game, best for 47th in the nation. Three different Red Storm players also are averaging 15+ points per game which should create a strong test for the Jackets. As a team, the Red Storm are shooting at nearly 50% while the Jackets are shooting just over 42%.
Defensively, St. John’s hasn’t been stellar, giving up 71.5 points per game but on the other hand, the Jackets are only averaging 69.7 points per game so far this season. The Jackets this season have only scored 80 or more points in a game once. The Red Storm, on the other hand, have only been kept under 80 points once. If the Yellow Jackets are going to win on Saturday, one of those trends will have to give.
In terms of their season, this game is more important than it seems for the Yellow Jackets. While their postseason dreams were limited coming into the season, the Jackets will need a non-conference resume-boosting win at some point. The Jackets had two chances against Tennessee and Northwestern but failed to so. St. John’s provides a third opportunity on Saturday.
While their chances to win on Saturday seem pretty low (30.9% according to ESPN’s matchup predictor), the Jackets could create some noise on Saturday with a win. It’s no secret that much of the nation doesn’t expect much out of the Jacket this season and while St. John’s could certainly still be a pretender, they are in a much better position than the Yellow Jackets at this point.
A win on Saturday could offer hope that the Yellow Jackets will be a competitive team once they reach their conference schedule. A loss, however, will continue to drive home the idea that the Jackets are not ready to be competitive against quality opponents and that Josh Pastner’s third season could be a long one for the program.