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March 9, 2005

ACC Tournament 2005: Georgia Tech

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
Team record: 17-10, 8-8 conference
Coach: Paul Hewitt


The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but their season ending win at home against Clemson moved them to .500 in the ACC and likely in to the Big Dance. The Jackets, who made it to the National Championship game last season, before losing to UConn, struggled mightily through the first half of conference play, losing four games out of five at one point, with their only victory in that span a 102-101 win over Wake Forest at home. The team that started the year 10-2 and ranked in the Top Ten nationally was 11-5 and hurting, figuratively and literally. The team went 4-5 without B.J. Elder at guard. But the Jackets, coached by Paul Hewitt, managed to cajole a turnaround that should be enough to earn them a face-saving NCAA bid. They went 6-5 in their final 11 ACC games, with ever win during that span being followed by a loss, and vice-versa. Teams that finish .500 or better in the ACC have gotten into the Big Dance 94% of the time, so their prospects look bright at least for this year. But next year could be a struggle, as the team will lose five seniors and perhaps Jarrett Jack, a junior, who may decide to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft. Jack led the team in points (15.9) and assists (4.6) per game, but the second, third fourth and fifth leading scorers (B.J. Elder, Will Bynum, Luke Schenscher, Isma'il Muhammad) all departing after this year. In the NCAA Tournament, where they will likely be a seven or eight seed, they could pose a very real threat to a top seed in the second round.

Strengths:
Rebounds- Georgia Tech snared 40 rebounds per game, and managed to score 75 points per game. The fact that both are solid is not a coincidence; Tech was good all year at capitalizing on second chance opportunities.

Weaknesses:
Not having BJ Elder- The Jackets were 4-5 without Elder, and 13-5 with him. Seems like he's a pretty big hole to fill. His 13.4 points per game were second best on the team, and his leadership was sorely missed during his nine-game absence.

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