Georgia Tech (6-5, 0-1) vs Louisville (8-4, 2-0)
How to Watch: 6:00 pm EST on ESPN2
2020/2021 records: Georgia Tech 17-9 ; Louisville 13-7
KenPom Rankings: Georgia Tech - 110; Louisville - 54
Efficiency Rankings: Georgia Tech - Offense 143rd, Defense 76th; Louisville - Offense 123rd, Defense 22nd
KenPom Prediction: Georgia Tech 66 - 67 Louisville. Georgia Tech is given a 46% chance to win.
Opponent Preview: Louisville enters Sunday’s game a perfect 2-0 in conference play but you’d probably be hard pressed to find many fans who are thrilled with the way this team has opened up its season. Not only have both wins been nail biters over bottom feeders Wake Forest and NC State but the Cardinals non-conference slate was littered with disappointing losses against Furman, Western Kentucky and DePaul. While Louisville appears to be a very solid group across the board, the lack of a go to option on offense has been apparent. Instead, the Cards rely on a balanced effort from a bevy of contributors on a nightly basis with nine players averaging five or more points but none averaging more than 11 a game. Leading the way in the scoring department is guard Noah Locke and forward Malik Williams who are both averaging in double figures. Williams is also pulling in an impressive 8.6 rebounds per game. One specific area on offense that has capped this teams’ ceiling to this point is the limited number of deep threats on the roster as they are 31.5% from three which is good for just 248th in the nation. Another area that seems to be holding Louisville back is ball distribution as they currently sport an assist to turnover ratio below 1 (12.9 ast/14.0 turns). It would be remiss to ignore to strong points of this team which start and end with its defense. Always solid in this area under Chris Mack running the pack line defense, this team really excels at preventing opponents from getting good shots as indicated by its strong defensive shooting metrics. Getting to the line will be key for Georgia Tech in order to get some free points against this team.
Game Prediction: After having 12 days to enjoy the holidays - and also nurse itself back to full health after dealing with the effects of COVID - the big thing to watch with regards to Tech in this game will obviously be if they look rested or rusty. Last year in a similar situation things didn’t go well for the Jackets as they lost 5 of 9 after a lengthy COVID pause before righting the ship in the middle of February. In the rear view mirror for the Jackets is also the brutal four game stretch in which they unfortunately went 0-4. A theme in those games was the lack of secondary scoring to complement Mike Devoe. In their win against Georgia State however, Tech was able to get 30 points from Jordan Usher. If they can get even half of that and another player to score in double figures, the Jackets stand a great chance in a game that looks winnable on paper. These are the types of games that have almost become must win if they want to make a return trip to the Big Dance.