Syracuse has found itself struggling against Georgia Tech since joining the ACC. From the football game we won't bother speaking of, to last year's basketball upset, the Orange have found themselves on the short end of the stick against the Yellow Jackets. Tonight would be a great time to turn that luck around though, 'Cuse.
Below, Wesley Morton (who you should follow on Twitter) from SB Nation's From the Rumble Seat, stops by to chat all about Georgia Tech basketball. Join us below, and swing over there too if you'd like to see our answers.
Georgia Tech looks like a team that plays to its competition this year -- both up and down. Is that surprising for fans so far?
To me, it's not surprising at all. Tech has had a history of doing just that under Brian Gregory, like beating #5 Miami in Miami a couple of seasons ago or losing to USC Upstate at home just a few weeks ago. The team during that time seems to find new energy when playing a top opponent and tends to come out of the gates flat when playing a lesser team. It's hard to know why this happens but there's a definite pattern.
Slightly related to the above: Has Tech played above expectations this season by starting 9-4?
I would say they have played above expectations. The team lost most of their main scoring options in the offseason and have a completely different frontcourt. I expected more of a meshing period to get settled but they handled their business pretty well like taking down a pretty good uga team in their first contest. Still, the ACC schedule is a different beast and I think they come back to Earth pretty quickly.
Do the Yellow Jackets miss Robert Carter at all, or has his loss been mitigated by the success of others in this year's lineup?
I think the Jackets miss Robert Carter Jr. slightly for his mid range game but not much more than that. The combination of Charles Mitchell, Demarco Cox, and Robert Sampson has picked up where Carter, Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey left the program. All three are good rebounders and versatile scorers, and already have a good chemistry with each other in the short time here. Still, only Sampson can step out and comfortably hit the outside shot which hurts the Tech spacing.
Transfers Demarco Cox and Charles Mitchell have allowed Tech to excel on the boards this season. Describe how both change the way the team rebounds.
Charles Mitchell does most of his damage on the offensive boards and he's one of the nation's best at that. According to Kenpom, he's in the top 10 in offensive rebounding or percentage of offensive rebounds per the available rebounds. He is great at positioning himself despite being just 6'8" and clears out space well with his wide body. Cox and Sampson are formidable as well. Securing the defensive boards helps the team get the ball in a point guard's hands and push the pace going the other way, something Tech has done a lot more this season.
What it is that this Yellow Jackets squad does so well compared to last year's?
This year, the pace is a lot faster than it usually is under Brian Gregory and they have been able to score in transition better than years past. Point guards Travis Jorgenson and Josh Heath are speedy and crafty ball handlers and our bigs run the floor well. This has netted us some easy buckets that usually we would have to grind in the halfcourt to get.
Georgia Tech can pull the mild upset if they (fill in the blank)
Tech can pull the upset if they hit some cot dang three pointers. Frankly, I have never seen a college team clank so many threes. At the time of writing this, they are second to last in D-I at three point shooting at 23.9%. Some of the main culprits like Tadric Jackson have been given free range to fire up contested pull-up threes without penalty and the ball movement around the perimeter just is not opening up the shooters. We have capable shooters like Quinton Stephens and Chris Bolden, but they haven't had many opportunities to hit some open shots.
Predictions for the game?
I think the Jackets hang around for a half or 30 minutes but ultimately brick their way out of a big win, 71-61.