The Georgia Tech men’s basketball team is coming off a big 87-60 win over the Miami Hurricanes this past weekend and on Tuesday night they’ll look for another resume-boosting win, this time against the No.16 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies.
It will be the first time the two teams have met this season, the last time they played each other was over a year ago on February 4, 2020. In that game, Jose Alvarado and Moses Wright with 20 and 14 points respectively, led the then 10-12 Yellow Jackets to a 76-57 victory over the 14-8 Hokies.
Currently, it’s safe to say the Yellow Jackets are on the outside looking in on this year’s NCAA Tournament but a strong close to the regular season and a good showing in the ACC Tournament may get the Yellow Jackets in by the skin of their teeth. With back-to-back wins, the Yellow Jackets have an opportunity to do just that with the possibility of finishing their season on a six-game winning streak and a 15-8 record heading into the ACC Tournament. However, there is no room for error at this point for the Yellow Jackets.
Before we look at the Hokies coming into Tuesday’s game, here’s how the Jackets rank in the three major college basketball ratings as of Monday night.
As you can see, both NET and Pomroy believe the Jackets are one of the top-64 teams in the country. RPI, however, believes the Jackets are well out of the picture. The Jackets in regards to the RPI are likely hurt by their record on the road (2-5) as well as their record against Quadrant 1 opponents (3-5).
First and foremost, the most important thing to know about Virginia Tech is that Tuesday will be the Hokies first game since February 6 against Miami. No matter how you look at it, 17 days without a game is a long lay off so it will be interesting to see how the Hokies come out in the opening half on Tuesday night.
The Hokies are not a terribly explosive team offensively, they’re averaging just over 72 points per game this season. Across the board, they’re an average team shooting wise with percentages of .447/.343/.709. Defensively, they can smother the opposition, holding opponents to 65.6 points per game this season. Opposing teams are shooting just .420/.325/.718 against Mike Young’s team.
In terms of players to watch, keep eyes on 6-foot-9, 235-pound junior forward Keve Aluma. The Maryland native and former Wofford standout is averaging 15.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season, he’s one of only two Hokies to average double-digit points this season. The other Hokie to average double-digit so far this is sophomore guard Trayce Redford, he’s averaging 11.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists this season.
One other player worth being aware of in our opinion is sophomore guard Hunter Cattoor who usually comes off he bench for Virginia Tech. This season, the Orlando, Florida native is averaging 9.2 points per game as well as 1.9 rebounds, and 1.2 assists, solid numbers for a player who has started just two of 18 games and is averaging 21.8 minutes per contest.
In terms of matching up, these two teams despite their record differences are very similar. Both play slow temp basketball offensively and are defensively minded, neither are going to force the ball up the court looking for quick baskets on a regular basis as they look to prevent turnovers and quick break opportunities going the other way.
You can’t go into this game either without mentioning the Jackets struggles away from home. While they haven’t necessarily played poor on the road consistently, they do struggle to find ways to win. Considering the desperation they must play with considering their tournament chances, the Jackets will need to find those ways on Tuesday night.
If they’re going to win they’ll at least need strong efforts out of their top three in Jose Alvarado, Michael Devoe, and Moses Wright. It feels like it’s been a while now since all three were playing at a consistently high level. Now, late in the season, there would be no better time for everyone to be clicking on all cylinders. They’ll also likely need good performances off the bench from at least one of Bubba Parham and Kyle Sturdivant.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 72 – Virginia Tech 68
We’re going to go out on a limb and say the Yellow Jackets take advantage of some rust shown by Virginia Tech early on in the game and do just enough in the first half and at the beginning of the second half to hold on for a big resume-boosting win.