GEORGIA TECH (4-3, 0-1) | NEBRASKA (5-3, 0-1)
Game Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Channel: Regional Sports Network
Radio: 93.7 FM | 680 AM | XM 371 | Internet 371 | TuneIn App
Venue: McCamish Pavilion | Atlanta, GA
H2H Series: UNC 67 - 26 GT
Betting Odds: UNC -3.5
After ten days off, Georgia Tech is back on the Flats and ready to move into ACC play. It was certainly a mixed bag of a nonconference season for the Jackets, who dropped their first two games of the season before winning four of five with the sole loss being to conference foe, Florida State. But its the ACC slate over the next two plus months that will ultimately decide Tech’s fate this season. That road begins with North Carolina, a perennial national contender who looks to be in the middle of a two year rebuild. The Jackets won the only game between the two teams last year and have a great opportunity to do make it two in a row in the series.
The Tar Heels enter this game 5-3 after a pretty tough nonconference schedule. They suffered losses at the hands of nationally ranked Iowa and Texas, while picking up wins against UNLV, Stanford, a struggling Kentucky team, and two cupcakes in College of Charleston and North Carolina Central. They also dropped their first game of conference play against rival NC State. This is a classic Roy Williams group that stresses interior play. Its top two scorers are forwards Armando Bacot (12.0) and Garrison Brooks (11.5) and as a team they rank 6th in country in rebounding at 45.4 per game. What is holding them back is guard play to elevate their bigs to a different level and a true go-to option. Brooks was thought to be that guy, entering the season as an all conference performer, but his numbers have been down so far across the board. The link between those two deficient areas appears to be the team’s passing, as they rank just 222nd nationally in assists. Their starting backcourt in made up of two freshmen in R.J. Davis and Caleb Love and both players have taken their lumps thus far, sporting poor shooting percentages and assist to turnovers ratios. Andrew Platek can be a dangerous shooting option off the bench (43.9% from 3), but doesn’t get a whole lot of minutes.
Inside the Numbers
One of the keys against the Tar Heels is always to keep them off the boards and out of transition to prevent second chance and easy baskets. That will be even more important tonight as this UNC team struggles to find efficiency in the half court. They rank outside the top 200 in effective fg% and turnover%, two of Ken Pom’s four factors of success, and outside the top 300 in team 3pt%. Defensively they are solid but unspectacular and are buoyed by a top 20 block%, furthering the notion that this game will be won in the paint. From a personnel standpoint, this game pits an extremely experienced team in Tech against one of the youngest rosters in the country at UNC. That experience has played out for the Jackets in improved turnover numbers so far this year. It will be vital that they win that battle tonight.