2009-2010 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

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(home games)
  • Date: Saturday, March 6, 2010
  • Time: 4pm
  • TV: Raycom

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Virginia Tech plays their final game of the regular season against a very
talented Georgia Tech team on Saturday afternoon. A win would all but lock up a
trip to the NCAA tournament for the Hokies, but the Yellow Jackets need to win
the game to help their resume as well.

Georgia Tech is 19-10 overall and 7-8 in the ACC. The Jackets have played a
tough schedule (21st overall), and their RPI rank is #35. They are 4-7 against
top 50 teams this year, with wins coming against #2 Duke, #25 Clemson, #34 Wake
Forest and #40 Siena. This is a battle tested team, and one of the most talented
teams in the ACC.

Both Techs would love to win this game. If Georgia Tech doesn’t win it, they
would finish the season with a losing record in conference play. That wouldn’t
look good in the eyes of the selection committee, despite their very good
strength of schedule and RPI. The Hokies would finish with a 10-6 record with a
road win, and no 10-6 ACC team has ever been left out of the NCAA tournament.

The Yellow Jackets have three possible NBA draft picks in their starting
lineup They have a tall, rangy lineup, with a good mix of experience and youth.

Tech Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
Iman Shumpert
6-5 209 So. 9.8 3.3
Glen Rice, Jr.
6-5 195 Fr. 5.2 2.9
D’Andre Bell
6-6 220 Sr. 6.4 2.5
Gani Lawal
6-9 234 Jr. 13.5 9
Derrick Favors
6-10 246 Fr. 11.7 8.3

Big man Derrick Favors was the #1 overall recruit in the nation last season. He
has improved steadily as the season has progressed for Georgia Tech, shooting
65% in the month of February. Seth Greenberg joked recently that Favors shoots
such a high percentage because he looks down at the rim on most of his shots.
That’s not far from the truth, as Favors is an athletic player who likes to play
above the rim.

His frontcourt teammate is Gani Lawal. Lawal is a talented player in his own
right, and more advanced than Favors at this stage thanks to his experience.
He’s very athletic as well, and finishes well underneath. His numbers are down
this year thanks to the addition of Favors, but he’s still the same excellent

Favors and Lawal combine to form the best and most talented frontcourt
combination in the ACC. They are extremely hard to handle. DraftExpress.com
projects Favors as the #3 overall pick in this year’s draft, with Lawal coming
in at #30. However, both players could return to Georgia Tech if they so choose.
It’s unlikely however that the Jackets will have both of these players on the
court again next year, so they need to take advantage of it while they still

Favors and Lawal do have a weakness, and that’s free throw shooting. Both of
those players are just 59% from the line, and they have taken nearly half of
Georgia Tech’s free throws this year. As a result, the Jackets are shooting just
61.2% from the line in conference games. Virginia Tech is shooting 75% from the
charity stripe in ACC games, and that disparity could be the deciding factor in
a close game.

Iman Shumpert is a physically gifted guard whom DraftExpress.com projects as
the #24 overall pick in the 2011 draft. A big point guard who can be a matchup
problem, Shumpert has been a very inconsistent player in his first two seasons
at Georgia Tech. He is a bad decision maker at times, taking bad shots and
making some bad turnovers. However, if the “good” Iman Shumpert shows
up, the Yellow Jackets are very good.

At 6-5, Shumpert is the shortest player in Georgia Tech’s starting lineup,
along with freshman backcourt mate Glen Rice, Jr. That shows exactly how long
the Yellow Jackets are. They are difficult to shoot the ball against thanks to
their size, and they have plenty of depth off the bench.

Rice has started the last four games, and he played very well in GT’s recent
loss at Clemson. He scored 17 points in that game, and he was 3-of-6 from
three-point range. Rice is one of the Jackets’ best three-point shooters,
hitting 42.9% of his outside jumpers. He doesn’t shoot a lot of deep balls, but
he’s very effective when he does, using good shot selection.

Another freshman is Georgia Tech’s top deep specialist. Brian Oliver (6-6,
220, Fr.) is a former VT recruiting target from Oak Hill Academy. He has
attempted 139 three-pointers this year, while no other Jacket has taken more
than 80 outside shots. He’s shooting 40.9% overall from the outside, and 38.3%
in ACC play. Oliver is a top notch shooter, and when he gets going he can put up
big numbers.

The final starter for Georgia Tech is D’Andre Bell, the most experienced
player on the team. The r-senior is an excellent defender, and he’s capable of
guarding all of the perimeter positions. He’s not a big scoring threat, but he’s
a good overall basketball player. Basically he is Georgia Tech’s version of
Terrell Bell, and they even have the same last name.

Another player to keep an eye on is Zach Peacock (6-8, 235, Sr.). Peacock is
another matchup problem because he can play small forward or power forward. He
is shooting over 50% from the field and over 40% from three-point range on the
season, while averaging 9.2 points per game. Peacock is Georgia Tech’s only
effective backup in the post, so expect to see him on the court a lot.

Other backups include Mfon Udofia (6-2, 187, Fr.) and Maurice Miller (6-2,
189, Jr.). Udofia started all but the last four games for Georgia Tech, and
Miller has starting experience in the past as well.

Overall, the Yellow Jackets are talented and deep. Only Iman Shumpert
averages more than 30 minutes per game in ACC play, and he’s just barely over
that mark at 30.1 minutes.

Comparison, ACC Games Only
Category GT
Rank VT

Scoring Off.
70 4 71.1 3

Scoring Def.
70.5 8 70.1 7

43.8% 2 40.4% 10

FG% Def.
40.8% 4 41.3% 5

38.4% 2 27.4% 12

3Pt.% Def.
34.7% 9 29% 4

61.2% 12 75% 2

Reb. Margin
+1.1 6 -3.3 12

TO Margin
-1.67 9 +3.53 1

Assist/TO Ratio
0.8 10 0.8 8






Statistically, it doesn’t get anymore even than this. Both teams have strengths
and weakness, and this should be a very good battle.

Georgia Tech shoots the ball well thanks to their impressive frontcourt duo,
and they play good defense thanks to their overall athleticism and length.
However, they struggle terribly from the free throw line, again thanks to their
frontcourt duo, and they have a bad turnover margin.

The Hokies don’t shoot the ball well and they don’t rebound it well, but they
play excellent defense and they use an impressive turnover margin to get extra
possessions. The extra possessions have helped them become the #3 scoring team
in the ACC.

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Both teams need this game badly. Normally the home team would be the right
pick in this situation, but the Hokies are 2-1 at Georgia Tech since joining the
ACC, and 5-2 against the Yellow Jackets overall in ACC play, including 5-1 in
regular season games. In fact, VT has always had success against the Jackets,
compiling a 9-3 overall record since the two schools first met back in 1921.

With both teams desperate for a big win, expect nothing less than a close,
competitive game in the Thriller Dome.

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