The Georgia Tech basketball team will have the opportunity to spend the holidays in Hawaii as they will be taking part in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Classic.
The Georgia Tech men’s basketball program will be spending at least part of the holiday season in Hawaii. The Jackets will be playing in this years Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Classic in Honolulu. The early season tournament begins December 22nd and runs through Christmas Day. The Jackets are one of seven teams traveling to the Aloha State and one of eight taking part in the tournament.
The Jackets are entering their fourth season under Josh Pastner and are coming off a second-straight dismal losing season. Their first round opponent in Hawaii will be the Boise State Broncos of the Mountain West Conference. The Broncos have been one of the best teams in the MWC over the last few years including winning seasons of 20+ wins in four straight seasons. They also made an NCAA tournament appearance in 2014-15. This past season, they went 23-9 overall and 13-5 in the MWC. Head coach Leon Rice has been stellar since taking the program over in 2011 and will look to improve upon his 178-116 record in Boise.
The Jackets entering the tournament probably will be one of the bigger underdogs to win it. The favorites will most likely be the Houston Cougars and the Washington Huskies. The Cougars last season went 33-4 and made the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. The Huskies like Houston also made the tournament last season going 27-9 on the season.
That being said, the Jackets will have the opportunity to be one of the better teams with the Ball State Cardinals, Hawaii Warriors, Portland Pirates, and UTEP Miners all taking part in the tournament.
Ball State went 16-17 last season including a 6-12 record in the MAC. It was their first losing season in three years after winning 19 or more games in the three seasons prior. Hawaii, the hosts of the tournament went 18-13 last year and 9-7 in the Big West. They’ve been strong over the last five years and once again should be competitive in 2019.
Two of the worse teams in the tournament, at least on paper will be Portland and UTEP. Both programs failed to reach double digit wins last season. Portland for the most part has struggled since the turn of the millennium with just five winning seasons. UTEP on the other hand tasted a good amount of success from 2013-14 to 2015-16 but struggled since.
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The Jackets are currently slated to start their season off on November 5th against NC State Wolfpack.