Game Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Channel: ACCN | ESPN App
Radio: 93.7 FM | 680 AM | XM 380 | Internet 970 | TuneIn App
Venue: McCamish Pavilion | Atlanta, GA
H2H Series: Syracuse 7 - 6 Georgia Tech
Betting Odds: GT -5
Down the stretch we go of the college basketball season and Georgia Tech is in the mix for their first NCAA Tournament berth in 11 years. The Jackets have rattled off 3 consecutive wins, including consecutive double-digit ACC road wins for the first time since the 1985-1986 season. The most recent victory against Virginia Tech gave GT a pivotal Quad 1 win and placed the Jackets squarely on the bubble. Unfortunately there’s still work to be done as continuing to rack up wins and move up in the ACC standings is vital.
The Jackets are in desperate need of a win Saturday as they play host to the Syracuse Orange. This is a massive game for the Jackets not only to further their case for the NCAA tournament, but also because Syracuse is on the bubble as well (although further down in the pecking order than GT). A win at Georgia Tech would give Syracuse their first Quad 1 win and move them ahead of GT in the ACC standings. While not the most important metric, where GT finishes in the ACC standings could be important. The “blue bloods” that Georgia Tech is competing with for a tournament spot will likely be given the benefit of the doubt, so finishing above them in the metrics and ACC standings would likely ease potential doubts of GT’s resume.
NET Ranking: 40
Kenpom Ranking: 33
Quad 1 Record: 2-6
Quad 2 Record: 4-0
Key Wins: vs Florida St (11), vs Clemson (32), @Virginia Tech (51)
Going into the games on Friday, the Jackets are included in 24 of 110 brackets created by “bracketologists” according to BracketMatrix. HaslaMetrics has GT firmly in as an 11-seed. CBS’s Jerry Palm has Georgia Tech in the 12-seed play-in game against Western Kentucky. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is not as bullish on the Jackets as he has Georgia Tech on the outside looking in as one of the Next Four Out. It’s likely that the Jackets would be a tournament team in most brackets with a win on Saturday.
Syracuse Team Preview
The Orange have a strong record on paper at 13-7, but have played 8 games against the bottom 6 teams in the ACC (6-2), bolstering their win total. By far Cuse’s best win of the season came in late January when they knocked off Virginia Tech by 18 points at home (78-60). Regardless of the opponent, Syracuse is surging coming into Atlanta, winning 3 of its last 4 games. The Orange definitely have the opportunity to play themselves into the NCAA tournament as their next 3 opponents (Georgia Tech, UNC, and Clemson) are all either currently in the field of 68 or on the bubble.
Syracuse defenders have active hands, where they are 11th in the country in forcing steals and 20th in the country in blocked shots according to Sports Reference. This can generate transition opportunities leading to easy baskets on the other end of the floor. Additionally, the Jackets will need to avoid putting Cuse on the free throw line. The Orange are 9th in the country from the charity stripe at 78.9% and lead the ACC in the metric.
Syracuse Player Preview
Like Georgia Tech, Cuse does not go deep in the rotation, playing only 6 players double-figure minutes. The Orange offense centers around 3 players, who all average roughly 15 points:
Buddy Boeheim (Guard, 15.5 PTS, 2.2 REB, 3.0 AST)
Jim Boeheim’s son is now a leader of the Syracuse team as a junior. Buddy is a volume 3-point shooter, where he shoots it at 35.5%. The Jackets will need to be aware of him at all times to prevent him from getting hot from behind the arc. Even still, his length at 6’6 could allow him to shoot over smaller guards.
Alan Griffin (Forward, 15.0 PTS, 6.7 REB, 2.0 AST)
The Illinois transfer is second on the team in scoring and the other deep threat for Cuse at 36.1%. Griffin’s biggest value is on the defensive end on the floor, where he averages 3.2 steals and blocks per game.
Quincy Guerrier (Forward, 14.8 PTS, 9.3 REB, 1.2 BLK)
The Canadian forward is a scorer for Boeheim’s team, but also leads the team in rebounding. Quincy predominately scores from inside the arc, shooting 49.8% from the field. Guerrier was recently called out by Boeheim for lack of effort on defense, so expect his defensive intensity to pick up against the Jackets.
For Georgia Tech, this is a must win for their tournament hopes, but it likely won’t be easy. This is likely an elimination game for Cuse, so a strong effort from the road team is almost certain. However, the Jackets are on fire, winning their last 3 games by more than 14 points each (and it should have been 4 if not for a long banked 3 at the buzzer against Clemson). In addition, the Jackets have a sour taste in their mouth from last year, where the Orange came into Atlanta and won by 34 points (97-63). In the end, Moses will pose a matchup problem against a skinny Dolezaj, opening up the game for Jose and Devoe to rack up points. Jackets win a close one 73-67.