ACC Preview: Jan. 3
Cornell (4-8) at Maryland (9-3), 8:00 PM, ESPN3
Testudo Times wrote about how Maryland has (and will continue to) improve with the recent additions of Alex Len and Pe’Shon Howard, including how the tempo will increase with added depth.The numbers definitely bear that out – Maryland had shot 50% or better just once before Len came back. In his two games so far, the Terps have shot 56-of-110 (51%) and averaged 79 points. Before that, they were shooting 42.8% and averaging 67.4 points.
Yes, it’s a small sample size. But with Len, Maryland has its first two double-digit wins over anyone this season. It had beaten Mount St. Mary’s (309th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings) and Radford (315th, the lowest-ranked team Maryland has faced) by a combined eight points. It has beaten Albany (187th, the highest-ranked team Maryland has played since December 4th) and Samford (295th) by a combined 23 points. It’s an improvement, and that’s all you can ask for if you’re a Maryland fan.
Cornell’s best win was against Lehigh, and the Big Red have lost three in a row (although they lost by a combined 11 points at Illinois and Penn State in that span). Cornell shoots a ton of three’s, Maryland’s three-point defense isn’t terrible (33.5%). Also, Cornell’s opponents get to the foul line a lot and that’s where Maryland has lived this year; its ratio of attempts to field goal attempts (53.2) is 4th nationally.
Prediction: Maryland 79, Cornell 66
Random: Cornell has been known as the Big Red since 1905, but the bear has a long history as a university symbol. In 1915, they had a live bear cub named “Touchdown” at games. Touchdown even traveled with the team. Since 1939, they’ve changed it to a student in a bear costume.
Alabama (10-3) at Georgia Tech (7-6), 9:00 PM ESPNU
Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory pointed out after the Mercer loss that the Yellow Jackets are playing hard, but it hasn’t been enough. (The Yellow Jackets went on to lose at Fordham.) It likely won’t be enough tonight as this game is an awful matchup for Georgia Tech. Alabama’s offense isn’t great, but they are shooting 52.7% from inside the arc (just 27.4% outside it). But Georgia Tech has not allowed an opponent
The Yellow Jackets just can’t score. In their last six games against teams (of which they have lost three), they have shot 44% and 29% from three, averaging 62.5 points. So it doesn’t matter that they are holding opponents to 35% shooting and 58.2 points in that same span. And in their three most recent losses, getting to the foul line has been a huge issue: Georgia Tech has averaged 12 attempts (just 6.7 makes) while opponents have averaged 25.3 attempts (17.7 makes).
Alabama has the No. 10 defense according to Ken Pomeroy. Georgia Tech has faced two top-50 defenses (LSU and Tulane, losing to both) and averaged 50 points, shot 37% and attempted a total of 15 foul shots. They also had 36 turnovers. Alabama is holding opponents to 25.7% from thee and 40.8% from two, their 40.1% effective field goal percentage defense is third nationally.
The Crimson Tide is 7-1 at home and 3-2 away from home. Alabama had lost three of four contests to Georgetown, Dayton and Kansas State before turning it around, beating Oklahoma State and Jacksonville since. And they’ve averaged 70.5 points, a scoring bonanza for them. It will be more than enough for the Tide.
Prediction: Alabama 65, Georgia Tech 49
Random: It’s hard to have a Crimson Tide mascot, so Alabama has been represented by an elephant officially since 1979. In 1930, Atlanta Journal writer Everett Strupper wrote: “At the end of the quarter, the earth started the tremble, there was a distant rumble that continued to grow. Some excited fan in the stands bellowed, ‘Hold your horses, the elephants are coming,’ and out stamped this Alabama varsity.” … They were known as the Red Elephants by sportswriters after that. They had a real elephant for a time, too:
Yesterday: 2-2. I got my ACC Fail wrong in picking Virginia to lose rather than Wake Forest (in fairness, had I known C.J. Harris would miss the Wake Forest game, I would have picked Wofford). I’m sorry, Virginia.
Last week: 12-3