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Georgia Tech Basketball Game Preview: NIT Round 1 - (3) Indiana Hoosiers

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The Yellow Jackets aim to start another NIT run Tuesday night

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday brought some good news to the Georgia Tech basketball team as they learned that they would be invited to participate in the NIT for the second consecutive season, facing off against the Indiana Hoosiers. The good news didn’t stop there. Not only were the Jackets invited but, due to some strange circumstances in Bloomington, the Yellow Jackets get to play host in the first round despite being the higher seeded team. It all adds together to give Tech a big opportunity to put an exclamation point on a surprising season.

Indiana comes to Atlanta off of a tumultuous season. Ranked #11 in the Preseason AP Poll and reaching as high as #3 in late November, the Hoosiers put together a fairly impressive non-conference resume, defeating Kansas and North Carolina - two teams that would go on to receive 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. They paired those wins with a loss at in-state foe Fort Wayne, maybe showing early signs of the inconsistency that would lead to their eventual fall from the rankings. That fall was accelerated in mid-January when star forward OG Anunoby underwent season-ending knee surgery. The sophomore was rated as a potential lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft at the time of his injury. The Hoosiers went 5-9 after Anunoby’s injury, though 10 of those 14 games were against teams that made the NCAA Tournament. In last week’s Big Ten Tournament, Indiana upset Iowa in the second round before falling to Wisconsin in the quarterfinals.

Resume Comparison

Team Conference Record Conference Record RPI Rank KenPom Rank Record Against KenPom Top 50 Best Win Worst Loss
Team Conference Record Conference Record RPI Rank KenPom Rank Record Against KenPom Top 50 Best Win Worst Loss
Georgia Tech ACC 17-15 8-10 106 82 5-9 North Carolina (3) NC State (104)
Indiana Big Ten 18-15 7-11 79 42 4-12 North Carolina (3) Fort Wayne (145)

Stat Comparison

Team PPG Opponent PPG FG% Opponent FG% 3FG% Opponent 3FG% FT% RPG Opponent RPG APG SPG BPG
Team PPG Opponent PPG FG% Opponent FG% 3FG% Opponent 3FG% FT% RPG Opponent RPG APG SPG BPG
Georgia Tech 67.0 66.8 43.6 39.8 32.9 33.6 68.0 36.3 35.9 15.0 6.5 6.0
Indiana 80.2 73.2 48.2 42.7 38.3 33.6 72.8 39.1 31.7 14.3 6.2 4.7

Projected Starters

(6) Georgia Tech (17-15, 8-10)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 11 Josh Heath Sr. 30.6 6.0 4.3 apg
G 1 Tadric Jackson Jr. 23.4 11.8 15.9 ppg over last 8 games
G 5 Josh Okogie Fr. 30.0 15.5 17.1 ppg vs ACC
F 12 Quinton Stephens Sr. 33.0 9.9 7.6 rpg
C 44 Ben Lammers Jr. 35.2 14.3 3.3 bpg
6th Man 0 Justin Moore Fr. 20.4 4.4 2.7 apg (2nd on team)

(3) Indiana (18-15, 7-11)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 2 Josh Newkirk Jr. 28.0 9.0 3.2 apg
G 4 Robert Johnson Jr. 29.3 13.1 86.4% FT% vs Big Ten
G 1 James Blackmon Jr. Jr. 30.7 17.2 42.4% 3FG%
F 13 Juwan Morgan So. 22.4 7.5 55.3% FG%
C 31 Thomas Bryant So. 28.2 12.5 6.6 rpg
6th Man 20 De'Ron Davis Fr. 13.8 6.0 24.1% Usage Rate (highest on team)

Players to Watch

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

G - James Blackmon Jr.

Blackmon is Indiana’s best offensive player. He leads the team in scoring, putting in just over 17 points per game and ranks 6th in the Big Ten in offensive rating, per KenPom.com. Blackmon is a threat to score from anywhere on the court and can get his points in a variety of ways. The junior guard shot 42.4% from three while taking 7 shots per game beyond the arc. Inside the arc, Blackmon makes 55.1% of his shots. He doesn’t get to the free throw line a ton, but when he does, he is also very effective there. Tech’s defense has earned its status as one of the best in the country but stopping Blackmon will be quite the test.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Indiana vs Wisconsin Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

C - Thomas Bryant

The one-on-one matchup that may be the most exciting to watch is the one between Ben Lammers and Indiana’s Thomas Bryant. Bryant was very high recruited out of high school and was pegged by some as a player who could drastically elevate his NBA draft stock in his sophomore season. While Bryant remains one of the better prospects in the Big Ten, he has thus far failed to elevate himself into the lottery discussion. That’s not to say he hasn’t been effective though. On the contrary, Bryant can be a force down low. He’s an effective scorer around the rim and can stretch out the the three point arc with some success (39.0% shooter beyond the arc this season). Measuring in at 6’-10” and 255 lbs, he’ll be one of the bigger players Lammers has had to deal with this season. Bryant will try and get physical with Lammers, which has given Tech’s big problems at times during the season.

What to Watch

Georgia Tech’s radio play-by-play announcer, Andy Demetra, found the stat that may best sum up the clash of styles in this game.

That really says it all. Despite the troubles they have had this season, Indiana can score with the best of them. Blackmon and Bryant provide a really nice one-two punch on offense. Robert Johnson is no slouch either and has been nearly as efficient as Blackmon since Big Ten play started. Indiana is also a very good offensive rebounding team, something that has caused problems for the Jackets this season.

Tech’s defense will be hard pressed to slow down the Hoosier’s offense but there are a couple of factors that could play into Tech’s favor. First, Indiana is one of the most turnover prone teams in the country, averaging 14.9 per game and ranking second to last among all Power Conference teams in turnover percentage. Tech’s defense is not exceptional at forcing turnovers, but they should get ample opportunity to force the Hoosiers to make mistakes. Additionally, Indiana is not particularly good at getting to the foul line and Tech’s defense is good at keeping opponents off the line (40th nationally in FTA/FGA).

The matchup on the other side of the ball is not quite as exciting. The Jackets boast one of the worst power conference offenses by almost any efficiency measure. Indiana’s defense is nothing to write home about, but by simply being an average defense they have a slight edge over the Jackets. That said, the Hoosiers are among the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers. If Tech can hold onto the ball and avoid self-inflicted mistakes, they could find some measure of success on offense. They key, as always, will be getting Ben Lammers involved early and often either as a scorer or a distributor. As mentioned above, Thomas Bryant will be a challenge for Lammers, but the offense needs to flow through him even if he’s not the one putting the ball into the net.

Where to Watch

The game will tip off at 9:00 pm and will be broadcast on ESPN.