On Wednesday the Yellow Jackets finally got off the schneid with their first win in 8 games against Pitt at home. Now, they head down to Miami for another winnable game as the end of the year looms.
Miami is having a rough year. Despite having a very good coach in Jim Larranaga and relying almost entirely on upperclassmen this team has fallen to the bottom of the ACC. They are 3-10 in the ACC with home wins against Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and Pitt. They have been out of the tournament discussion for months and at this point are just playing pride, just like the Yellow Jackets.
This year’s Hurricanes team resembles Josh Pastner’s earlier teams in that they are very shallow. Larranaga’s lineup runs six, maybe seven, deep. The team is led by 5’7” point guard Chris Lykes. He averages 16.8 points per game on 42.5% from the field and 31.7% from deep. As a short basketball player who is used to playing taller players, I always seem to struggle when I play someone shorter than me on the pickup court. I don’t know how to attack them. It will be interesting to see how Jose Alvarado deals.
Lykes is joined by guards Zach Johnson, Anthony Lawrence II (plays some forward too), and Dejan Vasilijevic. They average 12.6, 11.6, and 11.2 points per game respectively and all between 40 and 44% from the field. In the frontcourt Miami plays center Ebuka Izundu and F/C Sam Waardenburg. Izundu scores 10.8 points per game on 64.6% shooting and 8.8 rebounds per game. He is somebody who has the ability to dominate a game, offensively and defensively.
This team is very balanced currently ranking at 86th in the country offensively and 86th defensively. Offensively one thing to watch out for is that every player I mentioned shoots between 31 and 39% from deep. It is an odd dynamic to have an entirely team capable of shooting, but none of them are exceptionally dangerous. Those six play nearly every minute for the Hurricanes. One way they make that happen is by never fouling. They are second in the country in avoiding fouls. Beyond that, this team is very middling. It’s hard to succeed in the ACC when you don’t do anything particularly well, but this isn’t a bad team.
The game takes place at 2 pm eastern at the Watsco Center (Miami’s arena). I predict that Miami will win this one. Even in the home win against Pitt the Yellow Jackets showed plenty of cracks. It’s been about 10 games since Georgia Tech has had a very good game and that’s what they may need to take one at Miami. Miami by 8.