Looking to build momentum from back-to-back wins to finish last weekend’s Orlando Classic, Georgia Tech goes back on the road to play Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at 9:15 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday night in Evanston, Ill.
The Yellow Jackets are playing in the 16th annual inter-conference series for the 15th time, and meeting the Wildcats for the third time in the last five years.
Tech is 5-1 in its fourth season under head coach Brian Gregory after going 2-1 in the Orlando Classic. The Jackets dropped a 72-70 decision to Marquette in the opening round, then bounced back to defeat Rider (61-54) and Rhode Island (64-61). Tech began the season with three straight wins at home over Georgia, Alabama A&M and IPFW.
Northwestern also is 5-1 under second-year head coach Chris Collins. The Wildcats won their first five games of the season before stumbling against Northern Iowa, 61-42, last Wednesday in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Georgia Tech and Northwestern are meeting for the third time in the last five year as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and this will be the Yellow Jackets’ second visit to Welsh-Ryan Arena, where the Wildcats took a 91-71 victory in 2010. The Wildcats also won in 2011, a 76-60 decision at Philips Arena in Brian Gregory’s first season as Tech’s head coach.
This is Georgia Tech’s fifth straight ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against a team from Illinois. The Yellow Jackets and Illinois met each of the last two years, each team winning at home.
Georgia Tech is 5-1 for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Tech began that season 8-1 and went to the NCAA Tournament.
Tech’s victory over Rhode Island caused a jump of approximately 50 spots in the various RPI rankings, lifting the Yellow Jackets into the top 100. The Rams are 36th in the CBSSports.com RPI rankings. Northwestern also is in the top 100.
Georgia Tech is 18-34 all-time against members of the Big Ten, 5-9 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Georgia Tech has a 5-9 mark in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and had lost five straight games in the crossover series before capturing a 67-64 win over Illinois last December at McCamish Pavilion.
Illinois was the fourth “repeat” opponent for Georgia Tech in the Challenge, having beaten the Jackets 75-62 in 2012 in Champaign. The Yellow Jackets have played Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern twice each. It also was the second time Tech has faced the same opponent in back-to-back meetings. The Jackets played, and lost to, Northwestern in 2010 and 2011.
Northwestern is the first “three-peat” for Tech in the series. The Wildcats captured the first two meetings, in 2010 in Evanston and 2011 at Philips Arena.
Tech has played seven “home” games in the series and has a 4-3 record in those contests. Four of the games were played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where Tech defeated Wisconsin (2001) and Michigan (2004) and went 1-1 against Penn State (2006, 2008). Two others were played at Philips Arena, an 80-77 loss to Michigan in the first Challenge game in 1999, and a 76-60 loss in 2011.
The Yellow Jackets have a 1-6 mark in ACC/Big Ten Challenge games on the road. The Yellow Jackets’ only road win in the series occurred in 2003, a 73-53 win at Ohio State the year in which Tech reached the NCAA Championship game. Tech also has visited Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana and Northwestern.
Nebraska and Purdue are the only Big Ten teams the Yellow Jackets have not faced in the annual series.