Georgia Tech men’s basketball first-round matchup against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, just got much tougher. Stadium reporter Jeff Goodman reported late Wednesday night that Yellow Jackets star forward/center and ACC Player of the Year, Moses Wright will be OUT for Friday’s game. Goodman did not report the reasoning for Wright’s expected absence on Friday.
The report comes after a few hours of speculation regarding Wright and his availability for Friday’s game and that speculation was elevated by a huge increase in the Vegas line for the game, as the Yellow Jackets went from 2.5-point underdogs to five-point underdogs. A strong indication that Vegas received early word on a major change for the Yellow Jackets, we now know what that change is and it’s safe to say it’s quite a big one.
Wright this season played in all 25 games for the Jackets, posting 17.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game with a shooting slash of .530/.414/.658. He was also great on the defensive side of the ball, averaging 1.5 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. It goes without saying that losing Wright was potentially the worst-case scenario for the Yellow Jackets. While the Jackets have depth at the guard and forward positions, at center they have very little depth leaving Georgia transfer Rodney Howard as the Jackets’ likely starting center come Friday.
Howard’s appeared in just 18 games for the Jackets this season and has averaged 7.6 minutes per game. He’s averaging just 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game this season. It also means we’ll potentially see freshman center Saba Gigiberia in a rotational role. Gigiberia has played in just eight games this season. While replacing Wright’s offensive abilities will be extremely tough for the Jackets, it may be more important to see how they replace his defensive abilities. Wright on Friday was going to be in charge for the most part in defending Loyola center Cameron Krutwig who is averaging 15.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this year. He was also the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year for his efforts this season.
No matter how you chalk it up, the loss of Wright is a major one for the Yellow Jackets and will be extremely tough to overcome against one of the country’s elite mid-major programs.