Georgia Tech: ACC Outlook

Glen Rice, Jr. is the only playmaker Georgia Tech has.

Record to date: 7-7

Strength so far: Defense. Georgia Tech’s opponents are shooting 37.7% and averaging 59.9 points per game. The most points they have surrendered are 76 (to Northwestern). Georgia Tech is fifth in the league in points per possession (0.789) allowed and one of six teams allowing fewer than 0.79. Georgia Tech’s opponents turn it over 15.5% of the time and have averaged just 11.7 turnovers in 75.7 possessions. That means Georgia Tech has been playing a lot of half-court defense in low-possession games (opponents average 75.8 possessions) and doing it quite well.

Needs improvement: Any aspect of their offensive game whatsoever. Georgia Tech is dead last in the league in points per possession (0.829) and tenth in loss of ball (19.7%). Their defense has held opponents to below 0.85 points per possession in 10 of 14 games this year, but Georgia Tech is 5-5 in those games because they can’t score. Georgia Tech has averaged less than 0.8 points per possession in seven games and is 1-6 in such games; it has averaged 0.88 points per possession or better six times (6-0). Georgia Tech has shot 52% from inside the arc this year but just 29.2% from three, worst in the league.

Most important player: Glen Rice, Jr. It sure seemed like the junior responded well to his early-season suspension; he scored double figures in eight of his first nine games back and averaged 14.7 points on 52% shooting, adding 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 31.3 minutes. In Georgia Tech’s two losses since Christmas, Rice has averaged 2.5 points on 2-of-10 shooting in just 20.5 minutes. He didn’t start against Alabama – it could be because he went scoreless in the game against Fordham, but it could also be that he’s back in head coach Brian Gregory’s doghouse.

Reason for optimism: There is nowhere to go but up offensively. Georgia Tech has some talented pieces. Sophomore Kammeon Holsey is shooting 69% from the floor and averaging 9.6 points in 22.4 minutes. He’s hit 15-of-19 shots and scored 31 points in Tech’s last three games in just 61 minutes. Jason Morris is Tech’s best three-point shooter at 32.5% (ugh), but he’s getting better, making 12-of-27 in the last eight games after starting the season 1-of-13.

Reason for pessimism: When the offense is bad, it’s really bad. It doesn’t seem to matter who they’re facing – Georgia Tech’s offense can be terrible on any given night. The Yellow Jackets shot slightly worse against Alabama (40.8%) than they did against Alabama A&M (40.9%). So there’s no real reason to think their offensive issues will turn around, especially since in ACC play, they will face five of the nation’s top 54 defenses, five of the top 40 and three of the top 13.

Surprising stat: Georgia Tech is tenth in the nation in block percentage (per Ken Pomeroy), swatting 16.4% of their opponents’ attempts. They allow 41% shooting inside the arc, 14th in the country.

Most likely win/s (1): Wake (3/3)

Most likely losses (12): Duke (1/7), @NCST (1/11), @Maryland (1/15), UVA (1/19), @Clemson (1/21), Miami (1/24), @UNC (1/29), @FSU (2/1), NCST (2/9), @Wake (2/15), @Va. Tech (2/18), @BC (2/29)

Toss-ups (3): BC (2/4), Clemson (2/21), Maryland (2/25)

Best-case scenario: 4-12

Worst-case scenario: 1-15 (It’s possible, based on the way they’ve played, but 2-14 seems more likely as a worst-case.)

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