ATLANTA - A trip to California to play Pepperdine and Southern California and non-conference games against Alabama, Georgia, Penn State and Vanderbilt, as well as 16 games within the nation's strongest conference, highlight Georgia Tech's 2008-09 men's basketball schedule.
Tech's schedule, announced Tuesday by the Atlantic Coast Conference, includes 12 games against teams that played in last year's post-season (NCAA or NIT) and seven national television dates.
Unlike last year, when the Yellow Jackets played 19 of their 32 games away from home, including 11 of 16 non-conference games, Tech's schedule is more heavily weighted with home games this year. Tech leaves campus for non-conference games only twice aside from its Dec. 20-22 trip to the West Coast. The Jackets have 16 home games.
"We made a good effort to better balance our schedule this year with quality home games and games on the road which would help our strength of schedule," said head coach Paul Hewitt. "With Jacksonville improving every year, Georgia State up-and-coming, and strong teams in Penn State, Vanderbilt and Georgia coming here, I think we accomplished that."
Some of the non-conference highlights include home games with Jacksonville (Nov. 28), coached by former Tech assistant Cliff Warren, in his fourth season, and Penn State (Dec. 3) for the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Vanderbilt visits Dec. 6 for the final game of a four-game contract, and Georgia comes to Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 6. Tech and Georgia State finish off a intra-city series with a Dec. 17 game at the Thrillerdome.
Also on the travel itinerary is a Jan. 3 visit to Alabama, the first meeting between the two teams in Tuscaloosa since 1974, and a Nov. 22 trip to Mercer, the first time the Yellow Jackets have visited the Bears since 1975.
Tech's ACC schedule begins with a Sunday national telecast on Fox Sports Net at home against Virginia on Dec. 28. The Yellow Jackets' home conference schedule this year includes Duke (Jan. 14), Boston College (Jan. 21), Wake Forest (Jan. 31), Maryland (Feb. 8), NC State (Feb. 14), Clemson (Feb. 22) and Miami (Mar. 4).
The 56th annual Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament comes to Atlanta for the fourth time, and for the second time in the Georgia Dome, which hosts the event March 12-15. The championship was last held in Atlanta in 2001, Hewitt's first season at Tech.
The Yellow Jackets will make seven national TV appearances, including a CBS game at North Carolina on Feb. 28. Tech's Dec. 28 game with Virginia, its Jan. 25 game at Clemson and the Feb. 8 game with Maryland will be part of the ACC Sunday Night Hoops package on Fox Sports Net, and its Dec. 22 game at Southern California will also appear on FSN. The Jackets' Dec. 3 game with Penn State will be televised on ESPN2, and its Jan. 14 game with Duke will be on ESPN.
Six ACC games will appear on the ACC's Raycom regional network, and as many as eight other games, including non-conference tilts with Vanderbilt, Alabama and Georgia, will appear on FSN South and other regional cable outlets.
Tech's schedule as announced Tuesday leaves four ACC games and the Dec. 20 game at Pepperdine not televised, but all could be picked up by regional cable TV. Those selections will be announced separately.
By the numbers, Tech has seven games scheduled against teams that finished in the top 50 of last year's Ratings Percentage Index, eight games against teams that played in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, and four others against NIT participants.