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StLouHoo's Preview:

The calm before the storm

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Virginia returns back to Charlottesville after two straight road games against ranked teams to face a young, struggling Georgia Tech squad. GT has shown occasional flashes of their future potential at times this year, but do they have it in them to string those flashes together for 40 minutes on Wednesday night?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Wednesday, February 27th, 7:00 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV:ESPN2

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:UVA -19, O/U 118.5, equates to ~69-50 UVA win
TAPE:Ranks GT #123, predicts a 66-48 UVA win, 96% confidence
KenPom:Ranks GT #110, predicts a 69-47 UVA win, 98% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#10 Jose Alvarado, 6-0 176, SO
33 mpg, 12.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 27% 3P%
SG#0 Michael Devoe, 6-4 188, FR
31 mpg, 9.5 ppg, 2.4 apg, 39% 3P%
SF#35 Kristian Sjolund, 6-7 200, FR
9 mpg, 2.9 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 34% FG%
PF#5 Moses Wright, 6-9 221, SO
16 mpg, 5.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 42% FG%
C#1 James Banks III, 6-9 243, JR
29 mpg, 9.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 53% FG%
Key Reserves
G/F#13 Curtis Haywood II, 6-5 202, SO
21 mpg, 5.9 ppg, 1.9 apg, 28% 3P%
G/F#4 Brandon Alston, 6-5 203, SR
19 mpg, 7.8 ppg, 1.1 apg, 39% 3P%
F#12 Khalid Moore, 6-6 200, FR
15 mpg, 4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 49% FG%
PF#34 Abdoulaye Gueye, 6-9 217, SR
18 mpg, 7 ppg, 4 rpg, 51% FG%

 

The ABC's of Georgia Tech:

A) They're playing for next year. Or maybe the year after that. Bottom line, this is a really young team primarily relying on four sophomores and three freshmen to carry a lot of their load, players who can best be described as "Pastner's recruits," whom he started bringing in with the 2017 and 2018 classes after he arrived 3 years ago. There's some talent there, with three four-stars in his 2018 haul, but at the end of the day they're still young with a steep learning curve in the ACC, and far too often they play like it.

B) Their offense just can't get in gear. GT's offense just isn't bad, it's easily the ACC's worst. It's bad enough that they can't shoot (ranked 12th in the ACC in both 3P%and 2P%). They compound that by being the worst in the league in committing turnovers (overall and live-ball) and offensive rebounding. They do a solid job of drawing FTs, but even then they rank 13th in the league in their FT shooting percentage. Florida State held them under 50 points twice, VT held them to just 49, and Clemson held them to 42. Just what is the Pack Line going to do to this offense?

C) The defense is their lifeline. Coach Bennett praised the Jackets' 1-3-1 zone in teleconference's this week, and it's been solid at times, ranking a respectable 8th in the ACC in defensive efficiency. They're especially good challenging shooters, with the league's 4th best defensive eFG%, good both against 3-point shooters (ACC 4th best 30.4% allowed) and inside the arc (ACC 5th best 47% 2P% allowed). They'll occasionally switch up looks to other zone formations or even man, and the confusion has allowed them to get a good share of live ball steals. Stacking their big men in the paint with the zone has also made them a good rim protecting team, 3rd best defensive block percentage. Like most zones, though, they do struggle on the glass, and their youth and inexperience often shows in a penchant for fouling.

 

Their Season To Date

Georgia Tech is 12-16 on the year, 4-11 in ACC play. Their best wins are at Arkansas and at Syracuse. They had bad non-conference losses to Gardner Webb and Georgia. They recently snapped a 7 game losing streak by beating Pitt by 8 at home, but then lost by 15 to lowly Miami this past Saturday.

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Turn them over. UVA's defense has really ceded TO generation this year as a strategy... After ranking 1st in the ACC last year in defensive TO rate, this year the Hoos are last. It's just a couple TOs a game (12.3 topg last year, 9.0 this year), but that can mean a swing of 3-5 points in a game, often a critical margin in a tight game. Virginia has had games where it was able to pick pockets, registering double-digit TOs in 10 of 12 non-conference games, but only 3 times in ACC play. But if there's any team that UVA can make hay with, it's a GT team that has committed double-digit TOs in every ACC game this year, and in some games coughing up double-digit live ball steals. Both starting guards are loose with the ball, and Virginia can really tilt the flow of the game if they can terrorize Jacket passing lanes.

2) Attack the baseline. It's the best way to break down a zone, whether a 2-3 or a 1-3-1, to use dribble attacks and ball movement to attack the gaps on the blocks by drawing away the center defender. There's a bonus effect here with good offensive rebounders who can set up inside the forwards and feast on second chance opportunities. With good high-post players like Dre, Jerome, and Key, coupled with solid post finishers like Diakite and Huff (and hopefully Salt), Virginia should be able to use a high-low game, or a baseline dribble-drive attack, to set up the big men for big days.

3) Get out to a hot start. Whenever playing these bottom-tier ACC teams, there's a lot of value to starting fast and burying the GT will to fight early. UVA has struggled in the first half of late, which led to struggles to put away Miami and Notre Dame, having to come from behind vs Louisville, and never being able to come back against Duke. GT, by contrast, has been doomed by cold starts, down 39-23 at Miami last weekend at halftime, and 34-23 at the half vs FSU the week prior. An aggressive start by the Hoos, both ends of the floor, will ensure this is a stress free day for all in attendance.

 

 

Predictions:

No need to overthink this one. GT is not a match for a full-strength Hoos squad, definitely not in JPJ. Virginia has a talent and/or experience advantage at just about every position on the floor, to say nothing of the men behind the clipboard. GT's defense may, at times, have some small edge, though they did just surrender 80 to mediocre Miami. But GT's offense is going to be hurting, no way to slice it.

There's just no one on GT that scares me offensively going against the Pack. Alvarado is a good scoring guard, but he's gone cold against good defensive teams. Alvarado scored 29 vs Pitt last week, but FSU held him to 0 points in one outing, and Duke, UNC, VT, and Clemson also held him to single digits. No one else has any sort of consistency game-to-game, or the innate talent to best UVA with hero ball.

Maybe UVA's offense clicks from the get-go, or maybe it's a mediocre scoring day. Either way the Pack Line is going to get the job done this week.

Hoos Win 65-39