Virginia Tech (18-8, 7-6) vs. Georgia Tech (11-15, 4-9)
Virginia Tech won’t be facing Virginia, Duke, North Carolina or any of the other ACC powers this weekend. Instead, they’ll travel to Atlanta to play what can be described as a “take care of business” game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech is 11-15 overall and 4-9 in the ACC, and they’ve only won one game against a team in the top half of the conference standings. That was a 64-54 victory at home over Miami way back on Jan. 3.
Through 13 ACC games, including six losses, the Hokies haven’t been defeated by a bad team. They could have played better in home losses to Miami and Florida State, and the road game at Syracuse was winnable, but they have done a good job of taking care of business against teams at the bottom of the standings. They have victories over Pitt, Wake Forest and Notre Dame, who are three of the bottom four teams in the league, as well as Boston College, who sits in 10th place. Three of those four games were on the road as well.
This is the type of game the Hokies have excelled in all season, and it will also be their final matchup this season against a team near the bottom of the standings. It’s important that they find a way to pick up a victory.
Georgia Tech defied expectations last year in the first season with Josh Pastner at the helm, going 21-16 and advancing to the finals of the NIT. Pastner was named the 2016-17 ACC Coach of the Year thanks to those results. However, the Jackets haven’t been able to build on that success this season, and barring a miracle, they will not be playing postseason basketball.
Here’s how Georgia Tech looks in some of the key metrics…
Offensive Efficiency: No. 267
Effective Field Goal Percentage: No. 312
Rebounding Rate: No. 148
Turnovers per Possession: No. 249
Defensive Efficiency: No. 115
Defensive Effective FG Percentage: No. 72
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: No. 156
The Yellow Jackets turn the ball over too much, they are mediocre rebounders, and they are either bad shooters or they can’t get good shots. This is a very poor offensive team, and their slightly above average defense has not been able to bail them out.
Still, the Hokies must be wary of pace. Georgia Tech ranks No. 332 out of 351 teams in possessions per game. They average just five more possessions than Virginia. Georgia Tech’s best hope of winning games is by slowing it down and limiting possessions. However, their turnover problem has been quite bad, and the fact that they play limited possessions means they have fewer chances to score than most teams. The Hokies need to play a good defensive game, get defensive rebounds, and force the tempo.
Georgia Tech has started nine different players this season, but their roster has been more limited in ACC play. In their most recent loss at Wake Forest, they used a seven-man rotation with the following starting lineup.
G Tadrick Jackson (6-foot-2, 203 pounds, Sr.): Averaging 11.3 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game. Jackson is the brother of Virginia Tech redshirt-freshman guard Tyrie Jackson.
G Josh Okogie (6-foot-4, 213 pounds, So.): Averaging 19.1 ppg and 6.4 rpg. Okogie is Georgia Tech’s best player, and perhaps the best player in the ACC that you’ve probably never heard of.
F Evan Cole (6-foot-9, 211 pounds, Fr.): Averaging 2.5 ppg and 1.8 rpg. Cole made his first and only start of the season against Wake Forest.
F Abdoulaye Gueye (6-foot-9, 214 pounds, r-Jr.): Averaging 6.6 ppg and 4.8 rpg. Gueye averages 24.4 minutes per game.
C Ben Lammers (6-foot-10, 234 pounds, Sr.): Averaging 11.3 ppg and 8.6 rpg. Lammers is an excellent center who was recruited by Buzz Williams at Marquette. He leads the team with 65 blocked shots.
The reason Evan Cole got his first career start against Wake Forest is because of the season ending elbow injury to starting point guard Jose Alvarado (6-feet, 174 pounds, Fr.). Alvarado was second on the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game, and he led the team with 77 assists and 43 steals. His loss will be felt by the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech has played their best basketball at home this year, with a 3-3 record in conference play. In comparison, the Hokies have been a good team away from Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies have more ACC wins away from Cassell (four) than they do inside Cassell (three). A victory at Georgia Tech would clinch the first winning road record in ACC play in Virginia Tech basketball history.