Who: Virginia Tech Hokies (19-10, 9-7 ACC) vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (13-17, 5-11 ACC)
When: Thursday, March 10 @ approx. 9:20 p.m.
TV: ACC Network/ESPN2
Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
The Opponent:The Hokies enter the 2011 ACC Championship in need of a couple wins to assure a spot in this year’s NCAA Tournament. After failing to take care of business against fellow bubble teams Boston College and Clemson in the last week of the season, Tech finds itself squarely on the bubble with a slow of other similar teams.
Tech’s journey starts Thursday night against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (13-17, 5-11 ACC). The two teams split the season series, with each winning on its home floor. In the last meeting on February 13 in Blacksburg, the Hokies dominated the Jackets to the tune of a 102-77 victory. Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen had monster games scoring 33 and 25, respectively. Allen added 14 rebounds in the 25-point victory. Iman Shumpert scored 27 for Georgia Tech, including 6-of-13 from deep.
In the first meeting, the Jackets used a late run to beat Tech 72-57. GT got great production from Brian Oliver, who came off the bench to tear apart the VT zone and score 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Oliver missed the second game with a broken left thumb, but will return for the Jackets Thursday night. Shumpert added a triple-double with 22 points, 12 boards, and 11 assists. Delaney and Erick Green struggled from the field, combining for 17 points.
Here’s a look at GT’s potential lineup:
|41||Glen Rice Jr.||G||6-5||206||So.||12.8||5.6|
For a look at what Georgia Tech brings to the table, click here for the preview from the last meeting on February 13.
As for the Hokies, they enter the tournament with just seven available scholarship players. Tech suspended Jarrell Eddie for the remainder of the season late Wednesday night as a result of his possession of marijuana charge back on February 15. Jeff Allen is suffering from an ankle injury that he picked up in Saturday’s loss to Clemson and more than likely won’t be at 100 percent come game time tonight.
The key for VT tonight will be taking care of the ball. Georgia Tech finished as one of the best defensive teams in the league, ranking first in turnover margin, turnovers forced, and steals per game. The Jackets forced 16.3 turnovers per ACC contest, including 9.6 steals per game. GT also has a + 2.3 turnover margin in conference contests this year.
VT will also have to shut down GT’s Iman Shumpert. The junior leader of the Jackets was named to the All-ACC second team as well as the league’s defensive team. Shumpert averaged 17.5 ppg in conference, but increased that to 24.5 ppg in the two games against the Hokies this year. In addition he led the conference in steals per games (2.9 in ACC play), which was the eighth best mark in the nation.
The Hokies will more than likely try to take advantage of the three-point arc as the Jackets have the worst three-point defense in the league. In Tech’s win over the Jackets, the Hokies shot 8-of-15 (53 percent), compared to just 1-of-11 (9 percent) in Tech’s loss in Atlanta.
This is a huge game for Tech if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. If the Hokies lose Thursday night, be prepared for another couple NIT games in Cassell over the coming weeks. Check back here throughout the weekend for a brief recap of all 11 games from the UVA/Miami to the Championship game on Sunday.