Virginia travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech tonight at Philips Arena, home of the 2012 ACC Basketball Championships. Earlier this season I wrote that the first three ACC games of Virginia's schedule are crucial. I said that, if Virginia can take care of business with Miami at home and Georgia Tech on the road, and keep it close against Duke, then they'd have full vote of confidence on the road to March Madness (not the CBI). So far, the Hoos have met two of the three, and will look to bounce back after a heart breaker of a loss at Cameron Indoor.
Georgia Tech (8-9, 1-2 ACC) has lost five of its last six games, including three embarrassing out-of-conference ones, vs. Mercer (65-59), at Fordham (72-66) and vs. Alabama (73-48, womp womp). But the Yellow Jackets did keep it close against No. 3 Duke at home, falling 81-74 in what was a two-point game with less than 30 seconds to go, so there's no reason to head into tonight's game thinking it's going to be a complete cakewalk.
Georgia Tech gives up a whopping 15.0 turnovers per game, ranked 246th (of 338) in the nation. They are ranked 310 in turnover margin, giving up 3.2 more than their opponents.
Keep an eye out for big man Daniel Miller under center. At 6-11 and 258 pounds, he's likely going to give Assane Sene (7-0, 239 pounds) all sorts of fits tonight. Miller is ranked second in the conference in blocked shots, at 2.8 per game. As a team, the Yellow Jackets average 5.9 blocked shots per game, good for 14th in the country.
Tech runs what first-year head coach Brian Gregory calls the "Commando Defense." When Tech shoots, expect to see their point guard sprint to cover ours almost immediately. The idea is to apply enough pressure on our point guard so that, if we get the defensive rebound, by the time our point guard gets passed the ball, he should be somewhere near the baseline with Tech's point guard breathing down his neck. Our point guard will have to travel the entire length of the court with somewhat consistent pressure all the way down, something Virginia is not particularly strong at breaking.
A win tonight would be Virginia's fifth straight against Georgia Tech, and fourth straight at Georgia Tech. More importantly, it would demonstrate that the team -- especially Jontel Evans and Sammy Zeglinski, who both had pretty rough nights at Duke last week -- can bounce back from a tough loss and continue taking care of business against the teams they "should" defeat.