Virginia at Georgia Tech
Virginia (14-2, 1-1) at Georgia Tech (8-9, 1-2), 8:00 PM, ACC Network split/ESPN3
Pretty simple: if Virginia is going to be a top-tier ACC team, it needs to win this game. It’s not a make-or-break game for the Cavaliers, but really good ACC teams win games like this more often than not, particularly coming off of losses with a long lay-off.
Stat to watch: Virginia’s three-point shooting. The Cavaliers haven’t been great at shooting three’s all year, but have been fairly steady for the most part with a few very good games sprinkled in. The Cavaliers were 0-of-5 once this year but their 3-of-16 performance (18.8%) against Duke was their second-worst number of the year. All they need to do is make about 35% or more when Mike Scott is playing as well as he is down low and their defense is as smothering as it has been. They still could have beaten Duke despite shooting so poorly, but they will certainly make things easier on themselves in ACC play if they can make a few more. So far, they’re just 7-of-29. Georgia Tech’s three-point defense has been good all year and in ACC play, holding ACC opponents to 31 percent. It would be good for Virginia to have a nice day from three on the road against a good three-point defense.
Most important players: Joe Harris, Virginia and Mfon Udofia, Georgia Tech. Udofia is really the only other player Georgia Tech has besides Glen Rice that can create his own shot, and when he’s good, Georgia Tech has been good. In a close loss to Duke and a win over N.C. State, Udofia shot 11-of-17 (5-of-7 from three) and hit 9-of-14 foul shots, averaging 18 points. In the loss at Maryland, he had four points on 2-of-8 shooting and didn’t get to the line. He has the athleticism to give Virginia trouble, but he has to be more consistent. Harris had a very nice game at Duke (14 points) but he has hit just 2-of-6 three’s in ACC play. Virginia doesn’t need him to hit a bunch of three’s per se, but he’s looking like the best secondary option to take the load off of Mike Scott. He needs to begin asserting himself as someone that defenses have to worry about all the time because right now, they’re mostly concentrating on Scott. His three-point shooting and scoring ability will help open things up a bit more for Scott down low.
Random stat: Georgia Tech is just 2-6 against Virginia in their last eight meetings (dating back to 2007) and their only two wins have come on the road (in 2007) and at a neutral site (in the 2008 ACC Tournament). Georgia Tech has lost four straight in the series but still leads it, 38-33.
Prediction: Virginia 63, Georgia Tech 55
Last week: 6-5
Season: 72-27 (11-8 ACC)