THE FLATS -- commitment to a stronger non-conference schedule as well as home games against Atlantic Coast Conference foes Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh highlight the 2013-14 Georgia Tech men's basketball schedule announced Thursday by the conference office.
Every ACC game for Georgia Tech as well as the Big Ten/ACC matchup against Illinois will be televised - seven on the ESPN family of networks, six on the ACC Network (WATL-TV, Ch. 36 in Atlanta) and five on the ACC regional cable network (Fox Sports South in Atlanta). Television and tip times for Tech's remaining non-conference games will be announced in September.
Tech's 17-game home schedule in its second season in McCamish Pavilion (eight non-conference and nine ACC games) is believed to be one of the strongest ever for the Yellow Jackets, whose average attendance last season grew 2,436 per game over the 2011-12 season.
"We're excited about our schedule for the 2013-14 season," said head coach Brian Gregory. "With two of the three new ACC programs coming to McCamish Pavilion, our fans will get an immediate feel for the new and improved ACC. When you compete in the best basketball conference in the country, the 18-game schedule will again pose a challenge every night. Our home schedule may be the best we've had in a long time.
"Whenever you play several top-25 teams at home, and defending ACC champion Miami on top of that, you know that your program is facing a big challenge. We also have a good number of non-conference games that are going to build our strength of schedule and RPI and prepare us well for league play as well."
With four starters and five of its top six scorers back, Gregory's third Tech team opens the 2013-14 campaign with a pair of home games against Presbyterian (Nov. 8) and Delaware State (Nov. 11) before traveling to Athens for a Nov. 15 contest against Georgia, the earliest the two state rivals have ever played in the 189-game history of the series. The teams have played in November only five other times, most recently in 2002, with the other four occurrences all in the 1970s.
Dayton, where Gregory won 172 games over eight seasons before coming to Tech, visits McCamish Pavilion Nov. 20, followed by home games against North Carolina A&T and Mississippi Valley State, which were arranged as part of Tech's participation in the Barclays Classic, which takes place Nov. 29-30 in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Tech will play Mississippi and either Penn State or St. John's.
Illinois visits McCamish Pavilion on Dec. 3 as part of the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and Tech will host East Tennessee State (Dec. 7) and Kennesaw State (Dec. 16) before finishing out the non-conference schedule with trips to Vanderbilt (Dec. 21) and Charlotte (Dec. 29) around the Christmas break.
Tech also begins its ACC slate on the road, visiting Maryland (Jan. 4) at the Comcast Center in the final regular-season meeting between the two teams as ACC brethren, then heading to Duke on Jan. 7. The four consecutive road games spanning the New Year will be the most the Yellow Jackets have played in a row since the 1977-78 season.
Three straight home games against two of the ACC newcomers - Notre Dame (Jan. 11) and Pittsburgh (Jan. 14) - and defending conference champion Miami (Jan. 18) follow. The Yellow Jackets play four consecutive home games later in February against Virginia (Feb. 8), Boston College (Feb. 12), Duke (Feb. 18) and Clemson (Feb. 22). Tech has not played three straight conference games at home since 2007-08, and has never played four straight conference games at home.
On the heels of that four-game homestand comes a string of three consecutive road games against Notre Dame (Feb. 26), 2012 ACC champion Florida State (March 2) and the only meeting against Syracuse (March 4). The Yellow Jackets have not played three straight conference games on the road since the 1989-90 season.
Tech finishes the regular season at home March 8 against Virginia Tech, and the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament will be held March 12-15 in Greensboro, N.C.