Georgia Tech Basketball: What Will it Take for the Yellow Jackets to Upset Virginia


On Thursday when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-8, 0-5 ACC) take the court in Charlottesville against the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (17-0, 5-0 ACC), the Jackets will be facing their toughest opponent to date.

The undefeated Cavaliers will be the highest ranked team that Georgia Tech has taken the court against since January 16, 2008 when the Jackets took on the No.1 North Carolina Tar Heels.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets /

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

This is going to be a tough game because no matter what people may say, or what you hear, the confidence of Brian Gregory’s team has taken a hit.

They have been in every ACC game this season, losing by an average of 4.6 points per game. The Jackets have taken leads into the locker room only to have an offensive power outage come about at the most inopportune time of the second half.

So what exactly has to happen in order for the Yellow Jackets to get their first win and pull off the biggest upset of the ACC season?

The first thing is that Georgia Tech can’t have an offensive lapse against the No.1 defensive team in the nation.

UVA only allows opponents to score 50.6 points per game on 37% shooting from the field. If the Jackets go through a lull at any point in the game, this game could be over before it even gets started.

Secondly, the Jackets must value the basketball and make every possession matter.

The Cavaliers do not turn the ball over often, only averaging  an ACC best 9.1 turnovers per contest.

That means if Georgia Tech is turning the rock over at their average rate of 13.1 turnovers per contest, fourth worst in the ACC, that they are going to have a hard time getting those possessions back.

Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger – USA Today Sports

Thirdly, and most importantly, the Yellow Jackets must find a third characteristic that they can consistently depend on to carry them through the game.

The Jackets have two things they can lean on for sure.

They can defend well, allowing teams to hit 43% from the field and 29.2% from three-point range.

Georgia Tech is also a strong rebounding team grabbing 42.8 rebounds per contest, as well as the ACC’s third best offensive rebound total with 254.

But what is going to be the third thing that they count on in order to get this win?

The Cavs have three things they do well. Virginia is going to defend, play efficient offense, and take care of the basketball.

Georgia Tech needs to find that third thing, whether it is a player they can depend on for offense, being able to get out in transition for easy buckets, or having a big game shooting from the perimeter. Something is going to need to emerge for the Jackets to get over the hump.

One thing is for certain, the Jackets are going to have to slow down “The Wahoos” three-headed  monster of Justin Anderson, Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill.

UVA’s 6-foot-6 guard, Justin Anderson, is the leading scorer for the Cavaliers at 14.5 points on 50.6% shooting from the field.

Malcolm Brogdon, who also has nice size at 6-foot-5, is the second leading scorer dropping 13.6 points per game on the stat sheet while shooting 45.8% from the field.

Finally, 6-8 forward Anthony Gill, who is averaging 11.7 points on 57.9% shooting, always seems to be a game changer for UVA.

The Cavaliers pose a whole lot of problems for their opponents because of their overall size and length, as well as their discipline.

In Brian Gregory’s presser video on the Georgia Tech Athletics You Tube Channel, he talked about the problems he sees his team facing on Thursday as well as the things that have ailed his team leading up to this game.

When Coach Gregory spoke about needing production out of the backcourt, whether it is a point guard like Josh Heath or Travis Jorgenson, or a two-guard like Chris Bolden, that ties into the statement earlier in this article about the Jackets needing a third thing to consistently depend on.

We know that the Jackets can rebound and defend. We know that the Jackets offense is tied into how well they rebound on offense.

But what is going to be the third thing that the Jackets do well that will hopefully tie into sparking their offense?

Georgia Tech does have a couple things going for them, though it does not have much to do with their play of late.

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The Yellow Jackets have beaten two Top 10 teams during Brian Gregory’s time as coach. On March 6, 2013 they beat the No.6 Miami Hurricanes 67-62, and on March 4, 2014 Tech defeated the No.7 Syracuse Orange 67-62.

Georgia Tech has only one win against UVA head coach Tony Bennett. That came on February 3, 2013 when the Jackets beat “The Wahoos” 66-60.

This game will be televised at 8 PM EST on The ACC Network (Ch. 36 in Atlanta) and on ESPN3. It can also be heard on local radio in the Atlanta area on 680AM and 93.7FM, and satellite radio Sirius 108 and XM 93.