2004-05 Basketball Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech, ACC Tournament

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Men’s Basketball Preview: VT vs. GT

by Chris James, TechSideline.com, 3/10/05

#4 Seed Virginia Tech (15-12, 8-8 ACC) vs.
#5 Seed Georgia Tech (17-10, 8-8 ACC)

2005 ACC Tournament, Friday, March 5th, 2005, 2:30 pm

TV:

Raycom/Jefferson Pilot/ESPN/ESPN2 (click here for station
listings
)

The Virginia Tech Hokies will participate in their first ever ACC tournament game this Friday at 2:30 pm when they
play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Hokies played their way into the top 5 of the ACC and thus received a bye
in the first round of the tournament. Virginia Tech is seeded 4th in the 11-team tournament, and Georgia Tech is 5th.
This is the second meeting of the season between the schools, with the Hokies picking up a 71-70 victory in Atlanta on
January 22.

Georgia Tech comes into the game with one of the more talented lineups in the ACC. Junior point guard Jarrett Jack is
the best player on the roster. Pun intended, he is a Jack of all trades. Jack is leading the team in points per game
(15.9), assists (125), 3-point shooting (41.8%) and steals (50). He is also second on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game.
(Yes, the point guard is second on the team in rebounding.) Georgia Tech also has B.J. Elder, who missed the first game,
back as well, but his return has
not meant the difference in wins and losses that many thought it would. Elder is averaging 13.9 points per game this season.

Some would argue that not having B.J. Elder in the lineup cost Georgia Tech a victory over the Hokies back in
January. What many people don’t point out is that Yellow Jacket guard Will Bynum more than made up for Elder’s
absence, scoring a career high 28 points on 9-14 shooting and 3-6 from 3-point range. Bynum’s overall statistics this
season are 11.6 points per game, 39.5% from the field and 29.8% from 3-point range. So while Elder did sit out, Bynum’s
performance more than made up for his absence. The Hokies are more than capable of winning this game, even with Elder
back.

Statistically, the teams match up pretty evenly. The table below does not reflect overall statistics this
season, but statistics in ACC play only. This does a better job of evaluating the teams against the same competition.

VT vs GT Stats, Conference Play Only

Stat

VT (ACC Rank)

GT (ACC Rank)

Points Per Game

67.2 (10)

72.8 (5)

Points Against

73.0 (4)

73.4 (5)

FG%

42.6% (8)

44.7% (4)

3-pt. FG%

38.1% (5)

30.1% (11)

FT%

64.1 (10)

70.5 (5)

Rebounds

33.6 (9)

37.3 (5)

Rebounding Margin

-1.6 (6)

-0.6 (5)

Steals

7.81 (5)

8.25 (4)

Turnover Margin

+1.44 (2)

‘-1.19 (10)

Both teams are very strong defensive teams, ranking in the top five in the conference in points allowed. Georgia Tech
holds a bit of an advantage in offensive firepower, but Virginia Tech holds a big lead in 3-point shooting. The Hokies also rank
near the top of the ACC in turnover margin, while Georgia Tech is next-to-last. That is a battle that the Hokies would
love to take advantage of.

The consensus is that Virginia Tech used huge advantages in turnover margin to get off to such a strong start in ACC
play. That was true for a few games, such as NC State and Clemson, but it was not true of the victory over Georgia Tech
in Atlanta. The Hokies forced only 13 Georgia Tech turnovers, and were only +1 for the game in the turnover battle.
Rebounding, perceived as a Hokie weakness, saw the Hokies hold their own on the boards. Georgia Tech only
outrebounded Virginia Tech by one, 36-35. The Hokies beat the Yellow Jackets in a straight-up basketball game, not with
VT
getting a lot of turnovers to make up for their weak rebounding, as is perceived by many.

Speaking of rebounding, the Hokies have shown remarkable improvement in this category. In ACC
play, Tech is sixth in the conference in rebounding margin, right in the middle of the pack. Considering the relative size
of the Virginia Tech lineup, that is pretty remarkable.

Both teams bring intangibles to the game that could give them an advantage. The Hokies appeared to match up with
Georgia Tech pretty well when the two teams met in Atlanta, and will enter the game with confidence after a surprisingly
successful season and an early victory over the Yellow Jackets. Meanwhile, GT advanced to the NCAA Championship game
last season, and are comprised of a two-deep of five seniors, and an All-ACC junior in Jarrett Jack. They are very experienced
overall and know how to win in the postseason.

Despite the experience factor, Georgia Tech comes into the game as a team that still has not found the rhythm
they possessed during their magical ride to the National Championship game last season. The Yellow Jackets have been one
of the most inconsistent teams in the ACC this season, never able to string together a winning streak that could elevate
them back to the top of the conference. GT has been so inconsistent this season that they have not won back-to-back
games since victories over Miami and UVA on Jan. 6 and Jan. 8. So when the two Techs tip off on Friday, it will have
been over two months since the Jackets have won back-to back games. After losing 3 consecutive ACC games from Jan. 12 to
Jan. 22, GT has alternated wins and losses in each game.

And guess what? They are coming off a regular season ending
victory over Clemson, so the Yellow Jackets are right on schedule to lose to the Hokies.

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