5 things to know before Georgia Tech-Virginia

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Georgia Tech plays No. 4 Virginia Saturday at 2 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion in the Yellow Jackets’ ACC home opener. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network (WATL in Atlanta) and online on ESPN3.

Cavs’ local flavor

Virginia has four players on the roster from metro Atlanta, guards Malcolm Brogdon (Atlanta, Greater Atlanta Christian ) and walk-on Justice Bartley (Lilburn, Montrose Christian School in Maryland) and forwards Isaiah Wilkins (Lilburn, Greater Atlanta Christian) and Evan Nolte (Milton, Milton). Both Brogdon and Wilkins start.

Brogdon, if you’re not familiar with him, is one of the best players in the country (he was an All-American last season). He’s the sort of player who isn’t exceedingly athletic, but anticipates well and plays every facet of the game well. He averages 16.6 points and is shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 82.8 percent from the free-throw line.

He also is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and wants to someday start a non-profit or non-government agency to provide clean water and food to people in developing countries.

Bartley’s godfather is Tech legend Kenny Anderson.

Looking for more juice

Tech could use a little more from forward Nick Jacobs in the scoring department. Jacobs has been getting some decent looks, but hasn’t been hitting as consistently as he had at the start of the season. Jacobs came out scorching, averaging 15.0 points and shooting 61.0 percent from the field in the first four games of the season. Since then, he’s been more hit and miss, mixing in a 6-for-12 game against Tulane with a 1-for-7 against Villanova.

He has averaged 7.8 points in the past nine games but perhaps more notably shot 40.2 percent. It’s funny; the difference between what he has been giving Tech and what the Jackets could really use isn’t great. He was 4-for-10 against Pitt for eight points. Had he made one more basket and gotten to the line twice, that’s potentially four more points, which might have made a difference in a five-point defeat.

Part of Jacobs’ challenge Saturday is that he may see a bit of Virginia center Mike Tobey (7-foot-0) in the post.

Big crowd expected

There were only 250 tickets left for sale for Saturday’s game as of Friday morning. (I’d suspect the slew of Virginia alumni living in metro Atlanta might have something to do with that.) It stands to be the first sellout of the season at McCamish Pavilion.

Coach Brian Gregory sent out a tweet encouraging students to “pack the student section and provide a home court advantage. Our guys feed off the energy in the arena, so we need you to be there and be LOUD!”

Tech faces efficient offense again

As I wrote in the story for Saturday’s paper and myajc, the Jackets are playing much better offensively but aren’t playing defense to their standards. One reason why, at least in the past two games (losses to North Carolina and Pitt), is that the Tar Heels are ranked No. 2 nationally for adjusted points per possession (according to kenpom.com) and Pitt is No. 10.

It gets better. Virginia is No. 4. Notre Dame, Tech’s opponent Wednesday, is No. 3. Louisville, which Tech plays in two Saturdays, is No. 16. So, in the span of six games, Tech will play Nos. 2, 3, 4, 10 and 16. The Jackets have also played No. 5 (Villanova) and will play No. 1 (Duke) on Groundhog Day.

Itching for an upset

Were Tech to pull the upset, it would be by far Tech’s biggest home win in Gregory’s tenure and probably the biggest overall. The Jackets are 0-8 at home against ranked teams since Gregory’s hire with a handful of near misses. (Tech has won three games over ranked teams on the road in that span.) Off the top of my head, I think Tech’s win over Georgia might have been Gregory’s biggest home win in terms of the best opponent the Jackets have beaten. Georgia finished 21-12 and went to the NCAA tournament.


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