The Georgia Tech basketball team is playing some of their best basketball lately and will look to continue to do so on Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes.
With just three games left in their season, every game at this point matters for the Georgia Tech men’s basketball prorgam. The Yellow Jackets currently sit at 14-14 overall and 8-9 in conference play. While, it’s still unkown if they’ll be eligible for the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament this season, the Jackets are in a must-win situation.
If the Jackets stay eligible for the NCAA Tournament, they’ll need to finish their regular season off hot and win at least two games in the ACC Tournament to have a chance. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a huge win over Clemson on Tuesday night that drew their overall record back to .500 on the season.
The Hurricanes, on the other hand, are entering Saturday night 14-13 on the season and 6-11 in conference play. Winners of three of their last four, the Hurricanes saw a three-game winning streak snapped last time out against Notre Dame in a 87-71 loss to the Fighting Irish in South Bend.
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ESPN’s BPI considers the Yellow Jackets the heavy favorite in this contest, giving the Jackets a 74.2% chance of victory over the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have struggled mightily in conference play this year as seen by their 6-11 record and when looking at similar opponents in conference play, it’s easy to see why the Yellow Jackets are the favorites.
In nine of Miami’s 11 losses in conference play this year, the margin of victory for the opposition has been by double-digits in nine of those contests including seven losses by 15 points or more. The Hurricanes have simply struggled to compete in ACC play against quality opponents. They’re best in-conference victory this season was against Boston College, a five-point victory back in January.
The Yellow Jackets, on the other hand, have picked up victories and are 3-1 against the likes of Louisville, North Carolina, and North Carolina State, three opponents that the Hurricanes have a combined record of 0-5 against.
The Jackets since the turn of the calendar have been led by the duo of Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe. Since the beginning of the new decade, Alvarado or Devoe have led the Yellow Jackets in scoring in all but three games and seven of their last nine. They’ll need to continue their hot play here into the final week of the regular season.
Since January 25th, the Jackets are 6-3 overall and are 4-2 in their last six. Outside of a loss to Syracuse in which the Jackets blew a double-digit lead, the Jackets have been playing superb basketball including a 64-58 upset of then No.5 ranked, Louisville Cardinals.
The Hurricanes dating back to January 25th have had a much different story. Overall, their record since then sits at 4-5 though they did carry a three-game winnings streak last week but after starting the season 9-3, it’s been downhill for the most part for Miami.
The one place the Hurricanes have struggled for the entire season is on the road as they hold a 4-7 record away from Coral Gables this season. The Yellow Jackets haven’t been stellar at home but are still 8-6 at McCamish Pavillion this season. However, the Yellow Jackets have struggled this season when coming off wins, only being able to secure a victory in back-to-back games four times this season and are 4-9 when coming off a victory according to teamrankings.com
The other stat going in favor of the Hurricanes is “rest advantage”. Simply, when Miami is coming into a game with more rest than their opposition, they’ve been strong, going 6-1 this season. For Saturday’s game, the Hurricanes will enter the game with two more days of rest, as their last game was on February 23rd (Sunday) while the Jackets played on the 25th (Tuesday).
In terms of players to watch on Miami, look for the guard trio of Chris Lykes, Dejan Vasiljevic, and Kameron McGusty. All three guards are averaging over 10.0 points per game this season and can shoot well from all ranges. Lykes is the main man to watch as he’s averaging 15.2 points per game and is shooting 37.8% from three this season. Vasiljevic and McGusty are averaging 13.5 and 13.0 points per game respectively and both shoot effectively from beyond the arch. Overall, the trio accounts for over 50% of Miami’s offense on any given night.
While Georgia Tech has struggled in similar situations to what will be presented Saturday, it feels that the Jackets are truly playing some great basketball of late even if the results have not always been present. With that, expect the Yellow Jackets to come out strong again on Saturday night and come away with a victory even if it gets a little tight.
Fans can watch Saturday night’s game against the Hurricanes on the ACC Network with tip-off scheduled for 8:00 p.m., fans can also listen to the game via WRECK 91.1 FM.