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Syracuse vs. Georgia Tech preview: Q&A with From the Rumble Seat

Georgia Tech’s standing in the way of SU collecting its first ACC win of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Tulane at Georgia Tech Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get a look at the Syracuse Orange vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets match-up from the GT perspective. Rob Pensa, Basketball Editor at From the Rumble Seat joined me to give us some insight into Syracuse’s 2nd ACC opponent of the 2019-20 season.

With the postseason ban looming what is Georgia Tech using as motivation this season?

The postseason ban is currently under appeal, meaning that as of today the team is not banned from any postseason play. For now, this is all the motivation that’s needed for the Jackets. While the outcome of the appeal is not known, past history says that there’s a good chance that the NCAA won’t have a response to the appeal until after the season is over. Therefore, whether the appeal is upheld or not, it may not have any impact on this season and that’s the way the team is playing.

Last year Georgia Tech’s defense led by Jose Alvarado completely frustrated the Syracuse offense, how does this year’s team compare?

The Jackets are again very strong defensively this season, currently ranking 26th in defensive efficiency according to Kenpom. Every opponent Tech has faced so far has finished the game below their season scoring average. The Jackets do not force a lot of turnovers (239th in turnover percentage), but they play sound fundamental defense and don’t allow their opponents to get any open looks or easy baskets. Tech ranks 3rd in the country in opponents’ effective field goal percentage. It also helps to have one of the best shot blockers in the country with James Banks anchoring the post.

Michael Devoe is averaging 23.8 points per game while shooting over 58% from 3, how do you think GT use him to attack the Syracuse zone? What has been the key to his huge step forward this season?

Well obviously his three point shooting has been huge so far this season and will need to be a big factor against the Syracuse zone. Devoe has made three three-pointers in four of Tech’s first six games including a 5-7 performance against Georgia. The most well known way to beat the zone is to make your three point shots, so another strong shooting performance from Devoe could go a long way towards a Georgia Tech victory. With regards to what has been key in his step forward this season, I think it all comes down to confidence. Coming in as a freshman last season, Devoe was a pretty big recruiting haul as a consensus four star and top 50 player in the country. He showed his talent at times throughout the season, scoring 20 against Boston College, 22 against Virginia Tech, and 18 against Notre Dame. However, he was much too inconsistent (3 points against Pittsburgh and 5 against NC State) and very hesitant to shoot at times, even when he was open. This year, he wants the ball in his hands and has the look of someone not afraid to put the offense on his shoulders. He looks like a completely different player and it’s paying off huge in his sophomore season.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse has struggled to contain strong rebounders this season so do you expect James Banks to do a lot of damage on the offensive glass?

This season, Banks is averaging three offensive rebounds per game. His large wingspan makes him tough to handle on the glass, even when opponents have good rebounding position. Banks can use his long arms to snag the ball or knock it to another teammate without having to reach over the back of the opponent and get called for a foul. With Syracuse ranking outside the top 300 in defensive rebounding percentage, I could definitely see Banks having a big day on the boards.

Who wins and why?

I expect this one to be a close game, as most of Tech’s game this season have been. With both teams strong defensively and not great offensively, this should be a slug fest where every possession counts. The Jackets have struggled mightily with turnovers this season and will have to take care of the ball in this game. Ultimately, I think that home court advantage, combined with strong Georgia Tech defense, gives Syracuse enough fits for the Jackets to get a narrow victory.

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Thanks again to Rob for helping with the preview. You can get all your Georgia Tech news at From the Rumble Seat.