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ACC Basketball Preview: Jan 14

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 9:40am

NO. 22 PITTSBURGH (15-1, 3-0 ACC) AT GEORGIA TECH (10-6, 1-2 ACC)

Time: 9:00 p.m.

TV: ESPNU/WatchESPN

THE SKINNY

Pittsburgh's offense is clicking, but Georgia Tech can really defend. Unfortunately, that sometimes extends to self-checking its own offense, but hey. You say tomato, I say turnover. Anyway, a game like this will probably come down to rebounding. Pitt is 13th nationally in offensive rebounding (39.1%) and 33rd in defensive rebounding, allowing opponents to get just 27.8% of their misses. Georgia Tech is capable of hitting the offensive glass, though it's 103rd in that area - the Yellow Jackets have to make sure Pitt doesnt get second and third looks. Georgia Techs been good at that most of this season, allowing just 27.1% on the offensive glass to opponents, and needs to make sure it stays that way. Georgia Tech absolutely has to finish out defensive possessions to have a chance.

NAMES TO KNOW

Trae Golden. When hes good, hes really good. Georgia Techs senior transfer guard was really good against Notre Dame, scoring 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. To call him streaky might be a bit of an understatement - he scored eight points against Vanderbilt, 24 against Charlotte, 10 against Maryland, eight against Duke and then 20 against Notre Dame - but considering how offensively-challenged Georgia Tech has a tendency to be, they need a guard whos unafraid to attack the basket and/or shoot 3s. And hey, sometimes he makes them! Georgia Tech is 4-3 in the last seven games - Golden is 0-of-11 from three in those losses and 9-17 in the wins. Oh, and Georgia Tech is 6-0 this season when he scores 15 or more. Just saying.

Whoever gets Durand Johnsons minutes. A sophomore, Johnson was Pitts sixth man, a spark of energy offensively who was the fourth-leading scorer on the team and played about half of Pitts minutes. Now, hes out for the season with a torn ACL, and its not like Pitt has a ton of offensive talent beyond Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna. Per Ken Pomeroy, Pitts most frequently-used lineups included Johnson at both small forward and power forward. Johnson has come in for Patterson at the three-spot some, but hes usually at the four along with Michael Young (the starter) and Jamel Artis. Chris Jones, a freshman wing, is another option to see some time. Of course, those three combined have 43 points in the last five games while Johnson himself had 40. And Johnson has 22 of Pitts made 3s; only Patterson (31) has more.

STATS ARE FOR LOSERS

Georgia Tech has been as high as 46 in the Ken Pom rankings (after starting 3-0) and as low aswell, as low as where they are right now (123). Thats right - proof that Pomeroys rankings have nothing to do with results, the Yellow Jackets dropped seven spots from 116 to 123 after beating Notre Dame. Speaking of that game, it didnt hurt that Georgia Techs turnover percentage (15.6%) was its lowest since December 3. Pitt might be rolling right along here, but if theres cause for concern at all, its that the Panthers had their second-worst defensive performance of the year against Wake, allowing a 104.5 offensive efficiency. Wake also had the second-highest free-throw rate of any Pitt opponent this season.

NARRATIVES

Pittsburgh Win: Listen, Pitt, we like you and everything, but this whole new ACC teams beating up on the old ones thing is starting to get a little old.

Pittsburgh Loss: 

Georgia Tech Win: 

Georgia Tech Loss: 

PREDICTION

Pittsburgh, 73-64. Our new Big East overlords, guys. Wed better get used to it.

Last Week: 8-6 (8-6 ACC)

Overall: 22-13 (14-9 ACC)