In 1976, Sylvester Stallone created an iconic boxing figure in his film directorial debut, Rocky. Rocky Balboa glorified the heart of the underdog and achieved success against all odds.
Why the 1976 reference?
Because this was the last time that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won a Men’s basketball game in Athens, GA. Seems unbelievable doesn’t it with all of the talented players and teams that Tech has had over the years (Mark Price, Danny Manning, Tom Hammonds, Duane Ferrell, Dennis Scott, Kenny Anderson, Matt Harpring, Stephon Marbury)?
For the Bulldogs to keep their home winning streak alive Tuesday night against the Jackets, I think they are going to need a “Rocky Balboa “-esque performance because this GT team is very talented.
The Jackets come into this game 11-2 and ranked in both polls – #20 in AP; #17 in USA Today. Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology edition has Tech entering the NCAA tournament as a 7-seed.
Georgia Tech had one of the top recruiting classes coming into this season, and those talented freshman are producing early:
- F Derrick Favors – 12.4 pts, 8.8 rebounds
- PG Mfon Udofia – 11.2 pts, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists
- G/F Brian Oliver – 7.2 pts, 41.4% from 3pt
The Wramblin’ Wreck’s front court features junior Gani Lawal and senior Zachery Peacock, who are averaging 14.8 and 9.5 points, respectively.
This team shoots the ball well (47.2% FG), plays great defense (only allowing 60.5/game) and they are big inside which allows them to control the glass and bring down 42.8 rebounds a game.
The good news for the Dawgs is that this Tech team hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent all season (not that UGA has either) – CBS Sportsline has the Jackets strength of schedule at 179; UGA’s is 130…so there is a slight possibility that this Tech squad has built up its 11-2 record against weaker opponents.
Another bonus for the Dawgs is Tech’s next opponent – the Jackets play host to #5 Duke on Saturday and could get caught looking ahead…
Keys to the Game
“Under Pressure” – the Queen and David Bowie hit song should be the Dawgs’ mantra Tuesday night. This Jackets team has struggled with turnovers so far this year, averaging nearly 17 a game and ranking them 51st in the country in basketball’s ugliest statistical category. Mark Fox should consider utilizing the full-court zone trap press that features Travis Leslie up front and on the ball…this could create some easy buckets for the Dawgs and get Tech out of their half-court offense.
“Jackson, Barnes & Price, LLC” – Albert Jackson, Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price have got to give Georgia quality minutes against the Jackets. I always feel confident that Trey Thompkins will get his rebounds, but sometimes the other forwards make me a bit nervous…UGA needs them to step up and work hard on the glass to help limit Tech’s second-chance opportunities.
Marquee Matchup – Last year Trey Thompkins scored 20 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in an ugly game in which the Jackets won 67-62 in Atlanta. Gani Lawal scored 15 points and added 14 rebounds. It’s safe to say that they ended in a draw (though Lawal’s team won the game).
This year, I anticipate Trey winning this matchup. He has improved more both physically and statistically since last year’s rookie campaign, while Lawal’s numbers have remained almost identical.
The crowd for this one should be primarily red and black since the Georgia Tech football team plays Iowa at 8:15pm in the Orange Bowl. Hopefully the UGA faithful can bring a lot of energy and get the Dawgs nice and fired up.
I think that on paper the Georgia Tech team is more talented (vegas has them at a 6-point favorite), but I remember a situation back in November 2009 where a Georgia Tech football team was also considered “better on paper”.
This game will be televised on CSS beginning at 7:00PM EST.
What’s everyone thinking about this one? Will Travis Leslie come onto the court with “I Run This State” on his eye black or arms?