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 next opponent.
The first match-up was Syracuse’s best offensive performance of the ACC season. What do you expect Georgia Tech will do differently on Saturday?
Honestly, I don’t expect the Jackets to do much different defensively. Throughout the entire season, they have been very defensively sound, ranking 33rd in the nation in Kenpom’s defensive efficiency. That game against Syracuse definitely stands out as a fluke when compared to the bigger picture of the entire season. I think that first game was a combination of a lackadaisical effort from Tech and a Syracuse team which just could not miss, which led to the blowout loss. I do not expect (or hope for) either of those things to repeat themselves.
Georgia Tech’s won five of their last seven, what have been some of the keys during this stretch?
Well for one, Tech has been a lot healthier. Jose Alvarado, the undoubted leader of the entire team missed a majority of the non-conference portion of the schedule. He is really coming on strongly as of late, scoring 20+ points in four out of the last five games. As a team, the Jackets are also playing much more cohesively as they continue to gain experience playing as a unit. As I mentioned before, Alvarado was out for much of the non-conference schedule, transfer Jordan Usher had to sit out the beginning of the season, and Mike Devoe has also missed time throughout the year due to injury. The more games these players play together, the more chemistry they are gaining, which is translating to positive results on the court.
Jose Alvarado missed the first game but he’s leading Georgia Tech in scoring during ACC play. Why should Syracuse fans be concerned that he’s back for this game?
Quite frankly, Syracuse fans should be concerned about Jose Alvarado being back because he is the most important player on the Georgia Tech roster. He’s the leader of the team and plays 40 minutes most nights. Alvarado’s intensity is really what separates him from the rest. A quote that has been thrown around since his high school recruitment is that “he would rather win than breathe”. When he’s on the court, there isn’t anyone else out there that will outwork him. Not only does this make him successful, but it energizes the entire team. From a more technical perspective, he plays smart and does not turn the ball over much. He is very crafty and can find ways into the lane. Despite his size, his craftiness allows him to finish around the basket. Despite being a streaky shooter, when he is hot he can be lethal from behind the arc.
Syracuse’s frontcourt has struggled with foul trouble all season long. How do you think Georgia Tech will use James Banks III and Moses Wright to attack them?
Well for starters, Banks and Wright will have to stay out of foul trouble themselves. Banks has fouled out of the last three games and six times total on the season. Wright also fouled out of the last game, his fourth time on the season. If these two can stay in the game, they will definitely be a focal point of the Georgia Tech offensive strategy. On the season, 60% of Georgia Tech’s points are from 2-pointers, the seventh highest percentage in the nation. The Jackets are not a team which likes to shoot it from the outside and put a strong emphasis on attacking the basket. Expect a heavy dose of Banks and Wright throughout this whole game.
What’s your prediction for the game?
The Jackets are playing really well right now, but the Carrier Dome is a tough place to play and Syracuse represents a poor matchup for Georgia Tech. This is probably the toughest game remaining on the schedule for the Jackets. A win would be huge, but I am going to predict a narrow Syracuse victory.
Thanks again to Rob for helping with the preview. You can get all your Georgia Tech news at From the Rumble Seat.