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ACC Basketball Preview: Georgia Tech

Quick Facts

2005-06
Record: 11-17, 4-12 in the ACC
ACC Regular Season Finish: 10th(tied)
ACC Tournament Result: Lost in 1st Round
NCAA Tournament Result: None

Players and Coaches
Head Coach: Paul Hewitt, 6th year at Georgia Tech, 107-83. 9th year overall, 173-110
Key Returnees: G Anthony Morrow(16.0 ppg), C Ra'Sean Dickey(13.2 ppg), F Jeremis Smith(11.0 ppg), G Lewis Clinch(8.9 ppg), G Mario West(5.2 ppg)

Preseason Rankings
Poll Rankings: AP: #23, USA Today/ESPN: #21
ACC Preseason Poll: 4th

Outlook

Georgia Tech could be considered a slightly scaled down version of UNC this season. They return a compliment of strong players and add some highly rated freshmen such as Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young. Adding these two in with an experienced trio of juniors lead comprised of Anthony Morrow, Ra'Sean Dickey, and Jeremis Smith means the Yellow Jackets will resemble the 2004 Final Four version than they did last season. One issue facing the Jackets is they may struggle somewhat early on. Morrow is recovering from a back injury which has him out right up to tipoff of the season. The influx of Crittenton, who could very well start at point guard and Young, the preseason pick for Rookie of the Year in the ACC, could also have some negative impact as they get adjusted. So in many ways GT will be more dangerous the longer the season goes and by March they will be no one's favorite to play in the NCAA Tournament. If the first exhibition game was any indication the focus will be on the two freshman to spark this team with the steady consistency of the upperclassmen to make this a forminable threat in conference play.

THF Prediction

GT took a nastly fall last season and laungished at the bottom of the ACC after a Final Four appearance in 2004, and beating UNC in the ACC semifinals in 2005 before the Heels won it all. However, even last season it was evident this team was capable of playing at a higher level. They had UNC down by over 20 in the first half in Chapel Hill before Hansbrough dropped 40 on them and won the game. This season with two extremely good freshman alongside the returnees, GT is poised insert itself into the ACC race. Crittenton and Young are as good as any of the UNC freshman. The biggest question mark is how Marrow returns from his back injury which is always a dicey situation. I think GT is the third best team in the ACC ahead of Boston College. They have depth, experience, and plenty of talent. Paul Hewitt is an excellent coach, who seems to get a lot of out his squads. A late March run by this team is entirely possible.

Prediction: 24-6 overall, 12-4 in the ACC for 3rd place. NCAA Tournament