(Image — Danny Karnik)
Coming off the program’s most dominant win in a while, the Wahoos look to extend their five game winning streak as a similarly hot Georgia Tech team comes to town. The Yellow Jackets have a balanced roster than can win in a variety of ways, so UVA will need to be at its best to come out on top tonight.
What Georgia Tech has done so far
On a five-game win streak of their own, the Yellow Jackets have hit their stride in ACC play despite missing a number of games due to COVID-19 caused pauses. But, following a seventeen-day break from basketball activities, Georgia Tech came out firing against Clemson, beating the Tigers 83-65 and hitting an insane sixteen three-pointers in a statement win.
Before that contest, Tech racked up wins against Wake Forest, North Carolina, Nebraska, Kentucky, and a few mid major schools including Delaware State, Florida A&M. Earlier in the season, though, the Jackets lost two embarrassing games to Mercer and Georgia State while also dropping their first game in ACC play to Florida State.
Breaking Georgia Tech down
Tech is led by a three headed monster of 6’0” point guard Jose Alvarado, 6’5” big guard Michael Devoe, and 6’9” big man Moses Wright. Alongside those three, versatile big man Jordan Usher and small point guard Bubba Parham round out the Yellow Jackets’ starting lineup.
GT Offense vs UVA Defense
Offensively, Alvarado — 38.8% shooting from deep — and Devoe — 41.9% from behind the arc — are both lights out shooters from deep and are more than willing to chuck up a high volume of shots. That said, they’re each extremely capable handlers who are adept at getting their teammates involved. With Parham, the three of them make up what is essentially a three-point guard backcourt. That proved to be an issue for the Wahoos against teams like San Francisco and Gonzaga who each played with multiple lead guards on the floor at the same time. Trey Murphy will likely draw the matchup with Devoe, which will be key. With Clark likely on Alvarado and then either Beekman or Morsell guarding Parham, Devoe will challenge Murphy as the Virginia wing should hope to utilize his own length and athleticism to disrupt his opponent’s rhythm.
In the frontcourt, Wright will pose an interesting challenge. Jay Huff will be guarding Wright, which could be problematic. With Wright’s supreme athleticism and skill especially at the rim, he could force Huff into foul trouble. Especially considering that, in his last six games, Huff is averaging 3.5 fouls per game and hasn’t been playing as many minutes as he should as a result, this could be the determining factor in this game.
UVA Offense vs GT Defense
On the other end of the ball, Georgia Tech runs a variety of different defenses. Of late, the Jackets have used a 1-3-1 zone. Against that defense, it’ll be critical for UVA to feed Huff and Hauser in the soft middle spot of the zone. With Hauser’s ridiculous efficiency from the midrange (60.5% shooting from the midrange this season) and Huff’s playmaking ability, they could force the Jackets to play man. When Tech does play man defense, they do a lot of switching. So, it’ll be important for UVA to take advantage of mismatches when they arise.
Additionally, the Yellow Jackets’ defense relies on forcing turnovers. On average, their opponents turn the ball over 16.5 times per game. In contrast, he ‘Hoos have posted the fourth lowest turnover rate in the country. One of those patterns is going to break and whichever does could determine the outcome of this contest.
UVA will win if: The ‘Hoos take care of the ball and avoid foul trouble. We’ve now seen what the UVA offense can be at its best. While the Wahoos won’t be able to replicate the shooting performance from last Saturday, I expect the offense to maintain its rhythm. On the other end, UVA will need Jay Huff to stay out of foul trouble while staying in front of the Tech guards.
Georgia Tech will win if: the Yellow Jackets force UVA to turn the ball over on the perimeter, shoot the ball well like they did against Clemson, and then look to utilize Wright against Huff.
Score Prediction: UVA 71 – Georgia Tech 61
Both offenses will hit shots, but I see the ‘Hoos pulling away in the final ten minutes.