Depending on your perspective, it was either the best- or worst-scheduled game ever. Georgia Tech would play its biggest home game of Josh Pastner’s first season at noon on New Year’s Eve, an hour after Tech’s football team kicked off the TaxSlayer Bowl against Kentucky in Jacksonville. Three hours later, Alabama and Washington would play in the Chick-fil-Peach Bowl in a building 2.3 miles from McCamish Pavilion.
It was a bad bit of scheduling because it would be a game that almost nobody in Atlanta was watching, except for the part about Tech playing North Carolina, which nearly won the 2016 NCAA title and might win the 2017 NCAA title and which entered as an 18-point favorite. Had the Tar Heels come here and won by that many or more, it might have been fortuitous for Pastner and Co. that the result went unnoticed.
The actual result: Tech 75, Carolina 63.
Watching it unfold from one of the TVs — but only one; the others were tuned to the TaxSlayer doings — in the Georgia Dome press box, I did logistical calculations. Could I leave here, get to McCamish for the finish and be back by 3 p.m.? (No way, I decided.) Decision made, albeit with remorse, I watched the final four minutes on the one TV.
What little I saw was impressive stuff: The desperate Heels pressed, and Tech had none of it. The Jackets won going away. Which I never, ever thought could happen. I figured they’d do well to win three ACC games. They’ve already won one against the second-most talented team they’ll face. (They’ll see the most talented Wednesday in Durham. Some schedule you handed Pastner, ACC overlords.)
Speaking of which: I know the 15-team ACC has to struggle to get 18 league games to fit into a regular season, thereby necessitating that one league game be played before New Year’s Day, but the conference — which has gotten really good at football, too — might want to rethink playing basketball on a day when football owns the airwaves.
I’ll close — Bama and U-Dub are about to have at it — by saying: If the Georgia Institute of Technology has ever had a better sports day, I don’t recall it.