A look at Saturday's game between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech at noon at McCamish Pavilion. The game will be broadcast on regional sports networks, including Fox Sports South in Atlanta. On the call is none other than Wes Durham, who on Friday was named the Georgia sportscaster of the year by the National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Association of America, and deservedly so.
The game will be a testament to the transfer phenomenon in college basketball.
Yellow Jackets guard Adam Smith will be facing his former team, which he left after graduating. Georgia Tech forward Charles Mitchell and guard Josh Heath will also see former teammates. Virginia Tech guard Seth Allen played at Maryland with Mitchell and Hokies forward Zach LeDay played at South Florida with Heath.
Georgia Tech has two additional transfers, forwards Nick Jacobs and James White.
In 2015, there were more than 700 players who transferred, or at least sought to do so. With roughly 4,400 scholarship players in Division I, that’s about one out of every six. Of the 26 scholarship players in Saturday’s game, eight played previously at another Division I school.
Speaking of Smith, you should read this on him from my colleague Steve Hummer. Definitely worth a read.
A note from my story for Saturday’s paper and myajc about Tech experiencing a major free-throw shortage thus far. The Jackets are minus-44 relative to opponents’ free-throw total in ACC play, 69 to 113. The 113 free throws taken by North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Notre Dame are the most in the ACC. Worse for Tech, they’ve made 80.5 percent of them. (The No. 1 free-throw shooting team in the country makes 78.3 percent.)
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is plus-27 and averages 25.1 free throws per game. This figures to be a critical element of Saturday’s game.
About the Hokies
Virginia Tech has been a surprise team in the conference thus far, starting 3-1 with wins over N.C. State, Virginia and Wake Forest. Statistically speaking, the Hokies don’t do a whole lot well beyond get to the free-throw line a lot. They do lead the ACC in league games in turnover margin, at plus 5.5 in four games thus far, and sixth in all games, at 1.47. There are two things they don’t do particularly well – rebound and defend 3-pointers, which Georgia Tech could exploit.
Virginia Tech is 14th in the conference in defensive rebounding percentage at 68 percent, while Tech is No. 5 in offensive rebounding percentage at 37.8. The Hokies are eighth in the league in 3-point defense in all games (33.8 percent) and 13th in league games (39.6 percent) while Tech is first in league games (39.6 percent) and fourth in all games (37.7 percent).
On the bubble?
It doesn’t count for a whole lot, but bracketologist Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has Georgia Tech in the field of 68 for the NCAA tournament. Palm gave the Jackets a No. 11 seed as the last at-large team in the field and projected them to play in the “First Four” games in Dayton, Ohio. We’re a long, long way from March, but that would be a pretty interesting story if the Jackets were to go there with coach Brian Gregory, who came to Tech after eight seasons at Dayton.
Tech’s RPI was No. 43 as of Friday night, according to warrennolan.com.
The annual letterman’s game will take place following the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game. Among former players expected to participate: Kenny Anderson, Jon Babul, Drew Barry, Travis Best, Lewis Clinch, Bruce Dalrymple, James Forrest, Roger Kaiser, Marvin Lewis, Isma’il Muhammad and Mario West.
Kaiser, Tech’s first All-American basketball player, will sign copies of his biography on the concourse near section 101. Kaiser, who won four NAIA national championships with West Georgia and Life University, is a middle-school coach at Mt. Bethel Christian Academy in Cobb County.