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NC State is on to Georgia Tech, looking for four wins in a row

I wouldn’t expect an easy road win. Then again, I never do.

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It’s year seven for Josh Pastner in Atlanta, and you have to wonder when the patience he’s been afforded will wear out. (And since Georgia Tech just hired a new athletics director, Pastner should probably be sweating.)

Tech has followed up last year’s 5-15 run in league play with a 1-6 start to the 2023 campaign, its lone win a home upset of Miami. Five of its six losses have been by double figures, including an 11-point loss to Pitt its last time out. Another long season is in progress.

The latest edition of Pastner Purgatory

... OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
... OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
Offense 103.4 (186) 48.2 (270) 16.8 (63) 29.2 (171) 47.0 (285) 33.6 (174)
Defense 100.7 (108) 47.4 (77) 16.3 (314) 31.7 (284) 49.4 (161) 29.1 (23)

Pastner, for his part, is desperately pressing every button he can find in an effort to locate the one that will make this team good. Nine different players have started multiple games for the Jackets, which feels slightly excessive, but it’s the recourse he has.

I can imagine him stroking his chin as he eyes his bench, when suddenly he lights up, “Ooh, forgot about this guy! What’s he do?” before sending a dude into the game. And after a few minutes of play, he remembers. “Damn. Doesn’t do that much.”

Tech’s leader offensively this season is Miles Kelly (6’6, 175), who averages 13.9 PPG on the strength of his 40% three-point shooting (43% in ACC games). The Jackets don’t shoot a lot of threes in general, mainly because Kelly has been their only good perimeter scorer.

The team’s best frontcourt player is South Alabama transfer Ja’von Franklin (6’7, 214), who was limited to six minutes because of injury on Saturday—so keep an eye on that. Franklin is a bright spot of efficiency when healthy—56% on twos, 72% at the free throw line. He’s tenacious on the offensive glass and an outstanding shot blocker at the other end.

Georgia Tech has some promising players on the wing but lacks playmaking at the point; there are bits and pieces here, and a promising sophomore class, but too many liabilities elsewhere. Which doesn’t mean the Jackets can’t be good enough to knock off a good team, of course. Ask Miami about that.

KenPom likes State by five and puts the chances of ice cream at 70%.