After six games into the season, Georgia Tech looked at about the level many expected. They had been won against the low level teams they played, but better mid-majors and even the worst major conference teams looked to be too much for the Jackets. This culminated in a crushing loss against Tennessee, one of the worst teams in the SEC. With the next game at VCU right before finals, things looked to be getting worse. Instead, the Jackets played easily their best game of the season and was able to take down the Rams in a shocker. That game showed the true potential of this Jackets team and has given hope to a fanbase that was expecting the worst.
Georgia on the other hand came into this year with decent expectations. Their season has gone pretty much as expected so far. They have won every game against a lower conference team, although they haven’t played any top schools from those. In their three toughest matchups (at Clemson, neutral vs. Kansas, home vs. Marquette) they have fallen by double digits. Returning stars Yante Maten and JJ Frazier have once again played excellently, but have not gotten the support necessary for the team to improve significantly.
This is a big game for both teams. For Georgia Tech, this is a chance to make it 5 out of 6 against the Bulldogs as well as a chance to continue their momentum and change the outlook on the season. For the Bulldogs, this would drop their out-of-conference resume from meh to a significant negative. In fact, if the Jackets win, their resume might look better than the team from Athens. I expect a sold out McCamish to be bumping, although there should be a lack of students due to the end of the semester.
What to Watch For
The big thing to watch for is the matchup of big men. Yante Maten and Ben Lammers have been each team’s best players all year long and whichever can get the better of the other will give his team a big advantage in this one. Ben Lammers is #15 in the country in block percentage while Maten and Derek Ogbeide are both in the top 100 in the country. This could make it tough to score inside and give the advantage to whichever team can hit shots from the outside. Shockingly this actually favors the Jackets this year as they have shot a respectable 36.4% from deep while the Bulldogs have been a bad 31.2%.
The second thing to watch for is Georgia point guard JJ Frazier. He is small, but insanely quick and a good finisher. He destroyed Tech last season, so it will be interesting to see if the Jackets can step it up and prevent him from taking over again.
The final thing to watch will be where the scoring will come from for Tech. Every game seems to be the same thing. Lammers plays well and Quinton Stephens plays ok offensively, then either Tadric Jackson or Josh Okogie have a big game while the other is silent. If the Jackets can get both of these players going on offense on the same night that would let them keep the offensive pressure going for all 40 minutes.
The game is tonight at 7 PM at McCamish Pavilion and can also be watched on ESPNU.