Georgia Tech is flirting with dipping under .500 for the first time this season on Wednesday night
This league is such a gauntlet. Only in the Atlantic Coast Conference is it a relief to play the 45th ranked team in KenPom. A team that still ranks just about middle of the pack in the ACC in every defensive category. A team that just blitzed you a mere three weeks ago.
Clemson comes to town on Wednesday sporting a modest two game winning streak (Pittsburgh and Wake). Both games were played at Littlejohn where the Tigers generally take care of business. The Tigers are a less impressive 1-4 in true road games this season though and have yet to put one in the left hand column on the road since before Christmas.
Marcquise Reed continues to put up numbers for the Tigers, averaging a career best 19.1 points per game, but he is not receiving a ton of support. Through eight league games this year, only Elijah Thomas is averaging double figures (13.5) alongside Reed, who leads the Tigers at 17.8 points per game in ACC play.
Shelton Mitchell's senior season has continued to go unexpectedly. The typically solid southpaw is averaging a pedestrian 7.3 points and 3.3 assists in over 30 minutes per game. His historic reliability from behind the arc has also fallen off. Mitchell shot 45.3% two seasons ago and 36.8% last year. This season, he has fallen all the way to 28.4% and even further in conference play to 25.9%. In fact, on the season, Clemson ranks 271st in three point field goal percentage. They are, however, one of the best rebounding teams in the country, so defensive rebounding could be a pivotal part of this contest.
Whether it be the competition or simply the performance, Haslam has Clemson's two most recent games as two of their three best performances on the season.
KenPom predicts the game at 63-62 in favor of Clemson, while Haslam has it at 62-58 in favor of the kitties as well.
It's difficult to get too confident as a Georgia Tech fan right now. The Yellow Jackets have not scored more than 61 points in any of their last six games and suffered defeat in five of those six. The solutions aren't exactly rocket science as we just played a heck of a schedule the last few weeks. That said, James Banks and Curtis Haywood II simply need to play better. In his last three games Banks is averaging 5.3 points and 4.o rebounds along with 4 fouls in 25 minutes. He has also blocked only two shots.
Haywood is just too deep in his own head right now. In his last five games he is shooting 4% from behind the arc. He is obviously a much better shooter than that and a lot of the looks have been clean. He just needs to shoot his way out of it. Something else that could be happening is that he could be hitting the wall. Don't forget that he only appeared in 15 games last season before undergoing surgery on his leg. Recovery from that surgery affected his conditioning from what we heard out of preseason practice. We are now 21 games into the season and he may be hitting that freshman wall a year late.
I honestly don't have any idea what to expect, folks. At a minimum I'm looking for continued development from our young guys and continued health from our leaders. Hopefully we get to pick up the win.