Maryland will go for their third consecutive ACC win tonight when they take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta at 7:45 ET against a Yellow Jackets team that has been, well, consistently inconsistent.
Georgia Tech’s story this year has been that of two season. Unfortunately for Maryland, the second (and successful) season has just started. After starting out the season 7-8 with losses to Kennesaw State, Siena, and Charlotte, the Yellow Jackets have won three of their past four games, and stand with an ACC record identical to that of the Terps – 3-3.
Tech started out their recent run of success with a thumping of North Carolina, 78-58, and followed that up with a 74-39 win over Wake. After a 72-64 loss at UVA, the Jackets rebounded with a 72-57 win over Virginia Tech. As it stands, Paul Hewitt’s squad stands undefeated in the ACC at home, something no ACC fan would ever have expected of this Yellow Jacket team earlier this year.
Georgia Tech is a very strong defensive team, and gets a lot of turnovers. They rank 37th in the country with a turnover percentage (turnovers divided by possessions) of 23.6%, and fifth in the country with a steal percentage (steals divided by defensive percentage) of 13.9%. This effort is headed by Iman Shumpert and Maurice Miller, who each register individual steal percentages of over 4.0% (Shumpert is 25th in the country with 4.7%).
On the scoring end, the Yellow Jackets are led by Shumpert, a 6’5″ junior guard who is coming off a 22 points, 12 rebound, 11 assist domination of Virginia Tech. He has scored in double figures in all but two games this year, had a season-high 30 against UNC, and is averaging 16.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.7 steals per game.
Shumpert doesn’t even lead the team in offensive rating, however. That honor goes to Glen Rice, Jr., a 6’5″ sophomore guard who is the son of the famed NBA sharpshooter. Rice, averaging 12.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, is struggling from three this year (shooting only 34.8%), but he has the shot – as a freshman, he shot 46.7% from beyond the arc. Rice is the Jackets’ best shooter, and, like Shumpert, could create some serious matchup issues with his height. Expect Sean Mosley and Cliff Tucker to primarily guard these two, with Dino Gregory picking up the slack on Shumpert if he moves inside at all.
Brian Oliver, a 6’6″ sophomore forward, is averaging 11.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, and after that there’s not much scoring for the Jackets. This is just yet another very strong defensive ACC team who has had trouble putting the ball in the hoop, like Florida State, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and yes, Maryland.
The Jackets’ big man is Daniel Miller, a 6’11″ freshman who is averaging 4.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. He does not have a double-double at the collegiate level yet. Miller ranks 40th in the country with a block percentage of 9.4% (honestly, you guys can figure that one out).
KenPom has Georgia Tech ranked 74th in the nation, with Maryland still solid at 15th. The game has the second highest “Thrill Score” of today’s matchups, following Washington/Washington State, and he predicts a 71-66 Maryland win (giving Maryland a 68% chance of victory. I’d love to agree, but I think the Jackets have just been too strong at home recently for me to be too confident. Prediction – Georgia Tech 63, Maryland 57.