What’s the best way to prepare for the final exams? A conference road trip in a city that has historically given you nightmares, or of course!
Carolina is taking a momentary break from her non-conference schedule to travel to Atlanta for an early-season game with the ACC. Georgia Tech has won the last two games, but UNC’s talent has matured, especially Armando Bacot. Who has the upper hand this Sunday? Here are three things to watch out for.
Jose Alvarado is no longer at Georgia Tech to torment the Tar Heels. Let me check this very quickly… Yeah, looks like he has a two-way contract with the Pelicans.
Phew! So, with Alvarado leaving, who is Caroline to worry about? The Yellow Jackets played an exclusively non-conference schedule, and only two of those games (at Georgia and against Wisconsin in the ACC / B1G challenge) were from Power 5 conferences. Meanwhile, it was Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher who played. paved the way. These are the only two jackets to post a double-digit average (25 and 14.3 points per game, respectively). You all. Devoe is a problem.
No other huge threat on a team playing at about eight depths, but Georgia Tech collectively shoots at 41% from depth, and three rotating players shoot at 50% or better (Devoe – 59%, Deivon Smith – 50%, but on just six attempts, Deebo Coleman – 55%). If Carolina can stop Devoe and Usher from blowing up and shutting down on identified shooters, the rest of the Yellow Jackets are much more palatable.
Some issues here. McCamish Lodge is a perfectly charming arena, but it is rather barren and drab. Hopefully with such a large presence of UNC alumni in Atlanta (and match tickets now on sale), Carolina will have a large (and vocal) contingent to cheer them on. In any case, the Heels cannot count on a rowdy atmosphere to give them juice, they will have to bring their own.
Defense is a great way to do this. Caleb Love launched into Michigan getting his hands on balls at the point of attack, and especially when he helped Bacot steal the ball from Dickinson, and ended up stealing for a fumble dunk. It’s a great way to energize the team and deflate Georgia Tech.
Hubert Davis made a transformational change to UNC’s offense, and one side effect was a decrease in the team’s rebound. In addition to not crushing boards with a combined height of 20 feet, it often happens that a post player is the one throwing the three points, and therefore not in a position to embark. Against Michigan, Dawson Garcia and Brady Manek combined six 3-point shot attempts and four offensive rebounds. Obviously, this is not a Roy Williams frontcourt.
Now much of that is masked when Armando Bacot goes to take 14 rebounds in a game, shifting the overall rebound advantage to Carolina (likely helped by the trouble he caused Hunter Dickinson). But Bacot cannot count on this kind of personal production day after day.
Georgia Tech outshines its opponents this season at a rate of +8. They’re also shooting 48.2% for the season, so there will be plenty of rebounds to fight. The quality of UNC’s rebounds (a great indicator of effort and enthusiasm, something notoriously difficult to track statistically) will likely determine their fate in Atlanta.