Despite losing six straight conference games, Georgia Tech is somehow the favorites heading into tonight's matchup against Virginia, by five points. The Cavaliers are hoping to build some momentum coming off this weekend's victory -- and, because it can't be said enough, regular season sweep -- over Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are 11th in the standings, while Virginia finds themselves in a three-way tie for eighth, with Miami and N.C. State.
In the last matchup between the two teams, Virginia hit 10 buckets from three-point range, and went into the intermission up 43-29. Yes, that was one of the games where we actually had an offense. Virginia also had 22 points coming off the charity stripe (compared to GT's 10). Apparently, that was also when the Cavaliers could shoot free throws.
Keep an eye out for Tech's Iman Shumpert, who averages over 20 points per game in the past 11 games. In the previous meeting, Shumpert picked up 19 points.
This is a game where Tony Bennett's style of defense should really make the difference. Georgia Tech's generally strategy is simply to drive to the basket and try to get a couple easy points that way. If the Cavaliers can successfully implement Bennett's pack-line defense, it will force the Wreck to take the long ball, something they have not excelled in all season (they were 4 for 10 during the last meeting).
On offense, Virginia really just needs to take care of the ball. For the most part, Virginia is a low turnover team, averaging just 11.5 per game and ranked 28th in the country in this category (2nd in the conference). But Georgia Tech is fifth in the country in steals (9.5 per game, first in the ACC) and forces an ACC-high 17.0 turnovers a game. Turnovers lead to breakaways lead to easy buckets. With what can be at times an anemic offense, Virginia will want to continue protecting the ball, as they can't afford to give up points.
The Cavaliers' greatest asset in this game is probably Paul Hewitt, who seems incapable at making in-game adjustments, and appears generally unwilling to change his game plan based on opponent (unclear what said game plan may be).
By all accounts, this is a winnable game. But I don't think I need to remind everyone of what we were feeling heading into the Wake Forest game. By the way, Wake Forest has one win in its past 13 games. Can you guess against whom?
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