Let’s start out on of the more positive notes for Georgia Tech, their defensive. The last two seasons we’ve thought of the Yellow Jackets defense to be pretty strong but at the same time, there is a lot for Josh Pastner’s squad to work on defensively.
At face value, Georgia Tech and Villanova had similar defenses but once you take a look at more advanced statistics, the two programs begin to separate. Last season, Villanova gave up on average over 70.2 points per game while the Jackets allowed 2.3 points fewer per game with 67.9. That being said, it could be argued that Villanova was the better defense as they faced more possessions per game due to their offensive tempo.
That’s proven when looking at the two teams adjusted defensive ratings, though it is rather close. Villanova per their opponents 100 possessions last season allowed 94 points, which was 11th best in the nation. Georgia Tech allowed 98.7 points per game which ranked 61st.
Villanova kept opponents to a 45.4% floor percentage while the Yellow Jackets kept their opponents to 46.7%. Breaking down their opponents by two-point, three-point, and free-throw percentages, Georgia Tech and Villanova allowed the following lines;
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- Georgia Tech: .454/.379/.715
- Villanova: .490/.317/.747
Now, obviously teams have no effect on how their opponents shoot free throws, it’s more of defensive luck than defensive skill. However, the difference between their opponents two and three-point percentage is the big difference here.
Just looking off of stats, you can tell that Villanova is a team that focus more on guarding the perimeter. Just 29.1% of the Wildcat’s opponents points came from beyond the arch. By guarding the perimeter more, Villanova becomes more susceptible to giving up points closer to the bucket, where 53.9% of their opponents scoring come from. But opponents against Villanova still only scored 49% in those attempts. It’s a 50-50 trade off for the Wildcats when factoring in their offensive abilities, they can commonly exchange an opponents two-pointer for a three-pointer of their own.
Turnovers and blocked shots are huge when teams are looking to pull out victories, especially against top notch programs. It’s also a spot where Georgia Tech is among the best in the nation In causing turnovers an blocks. The Yellow Jackets had steals on 9% of their opponents possessions, which ranked top 50 in the country. Villanova on the other hand stole on 8.1% of their opponents possessions.
The Jackets specialty the past few seasons has been blocks. Last season, the program totaled 171 blocks and 5.3 blocks per game. Those five blocks per game put the Jackets top 10 in the nation in blocks per game. Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets they will be losing shot blocking machine Ben Lammers who had 254 blocks over his career. Villanova totaled 162 this past season and 4.05 per game.
The problem with the Yellow Jackets defensively was that they were extremely top heavy. Ben Lammers and Abdoulaye Gueye lead the team in defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) with +5.5 and +3.6 respectively. Moses Wright and Josh Okogie were the only other two Yellow Jackets with DBPMs above 2.0. The Yellow Jackets also had three regulars who had DBPMs of 1.0 or lower in Jose Alvarado, Tadric Jackson, and Brandon Alston.
Villanova was much more balanced defensively across their roster. In fact, only one Villanova player on the entire roster had a negative DBPM and only one regular had a DBPM of less than 1.0. The Wildcats had five players with 3.0 or higher and had nine players with 2.0 or higher.
The difference between the two rosters is huge in a game and over the course of a season. It’s what makes Villanova a perennial National Championship contender and Georgia Tech a struggling program, especially when you mix in the two team’s major differences offensively.