Vanderbilt faces Georgia Tech later today, and we were able to get in touch with a Yellow Jacket expert to supplement our usual game preview. BirdGT is a writer and editor (and, according to the masthead, coordinator) of From the Rumble Seat, SBNation's Georgia Tech blog. He's no stranger to being a fan of the nerd university in a state dominated by state-school mouth breathers. Needless to say, we had a lot in common.
He was nice enough to sit down and talk Saturday's Vandy/GT game to get both fanbases ready for battle. You can check out my responses to his questions here. Meanwhile, here's what he had to say about Yellow Jacket basketball headed into today's ACC/SEC showdown.
1. Western Carolina's Rhett Harrelson proved that Vandy's young defense has a ways to go when it comes to matching up with opposing wings. Is that something that Tech - and leading scorer Marcus Georges-Hunt - can take advantage of? Georges-Hunt has struggled from long range this season, but how dangerous has he been as a slasher who can get into the paint and score at the rim?
It’s hard to talk about Georges-Hunt as a slasher without mentioning the worst play of the season. He is so instinctual about going to the hoop that against Marquette with 11 seconds left, down 3, he drove to the rim instead of kicking out and scored an undefended layup. Marquette gets the ball on the inbounds and the game is over just like that in front of a shocked Brian Gregory. In short, he loves to drive to the rim even if it’s not a great idea.
As an athlete, he’s probably Tech’s most athletic handler and physical guard. His stats don’t lie as he is a tenacious defender leading the team in steals. He is not a refined shooter but is enough of threat to draw some defensive attention when drives the lane.
2. Big man Demarco Cox isn't a stranger to playing Vanderbilt after spending the first three years of his college career at Ole Miss. However, he only played 13 minutes against the 'Dores in 2014, and Vandy center Damian Jones put up double-doubles in each of those games (albeit while making just 7 of his 24 shots, Kobe-style). Has he shown the kind of growth that can keep Jones from being as effective on Saturday?
Cox has shown some flashes of greatness and some lulls in the season. Tech lost four year stalwart center Daniel Miller to graduation and Cox paired with Charles Mitchell have stepped in to the role as two more physically imposing 4|5 position guys. Both have similar games and like to run the floor. Unlike a lot of bigs they both really enjoy being matched up one on one down low.
Tech has really not faced an imposing big man this season so this will be a great match up for the forwards on Tech’s squad. My prediction is that Jones will probably rack up 30 points. Tech always seems to allow a key cog in Power 5 games to blow up the box score.
3. South Carolina-Upstate was held to 30% shooting, was outrebounded 42-30, and committed 23 fouls in their matchup with Tech this season. Just how the hell did they find a way to win that game 59-55?
Tech’s best win on the season is still against uga where Tech really controlled from start to finish and played a complete game. uga is about 48th in the Sagarin. So, there you have it Tech is good enough to beat down a middling SEC team, good enough to compete with a middling Big East squad, and bad enough to lose to a below average midmajor.
4. Finally, what's your prediction for Saturday's game?