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Georgia Tech vs. Georgia Basketball Preview

The Battle of the Undefeateds in Athens

NCAA Basketball: SEC Basketball Tipoff Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia and Georgia Tech both come into tonight’s game in Athens undefeated. Georgia Tech has had the tougher path facing NC State in Raleigh (albeit with two of NC State’s best players out) and a home win against Elon. Georgia has had a relative easy go of it so far beating Western Carolina (175th in the country), The Citadel (315th), and Delaware State (351st). Josh Pastner is 0-3 against Georgia which he is for sure looking to change this year.

Georgia is looking a lot different in Tom Crean’s second year. This team is loaded with freshmen. Of course you can’t talk about the newcomers without talking about Anthony Edwards. The top three recruit has looked fantastic in the opening few games of his career. He is scoring (19.7 ppg), he’s dishing (4.7 apg), he’s shooting (37.5% from deep). While this team has a ton of freshmen, most of their other key players are older. Junior big man Rayshaun Hammonds averages a double double with 14.3 points and 11.7 rebounds. Seniors Tyree Crump and Donnell Gresham share the wing. Gresham isn’t much of a scorer and Crump shoots threes a ton (9 attempts per game), but is shooting only 29.6% from deep. Sophomore big man Amanze Ngumezi hasn’t played a ton of minutes, but when he gets in he shoots the ball a lot. Freshman guard Sahvir Wheeler is a spark plug for the team who can score and break the game down.

Georgia is pretty good at both offense and defense, but they are not very balanced on offense. They score really, really well inside the arc, but struggle on shooting from deep. Georgia Tech under Pastner defends really well inside the arc, but struggles guarding the three so this will be strength-on-strength. Georgia looks like it will turn over their opponents a lot which is concerning to me because turnovers have been an issue for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia also plays very fast. Normally GT has preferred to play slower, but they had a lot of success pushing the ball against NC State so we may see a much faster game than usual.

One confounding factor is Jose Alvarado’s health. He missed the game against Elon and has been limited in practice this week. If he is unable to go then Tech will very much miss his scoring, intensity, and leadership.

One matchup to watch is Georgia Tech’s defense against Anthony Edwards. I’d expect to see the zone early, but if we switch to man defense I’d look for Khalid Moore to take on the task of guarding him.

If Jose is healthy this looks to be a very close game. Vegas has the Bulldogs as 4 point favorites. Kenpom agrees and gives UGA a 63% chance of winning. I’ll pick the home team to win and cover (side note: I love that they moved this game ahead of winter break. Play the game when students are in school).