Live from Tech: Going for a sweep of the reigning champ

The Jackets ready for the men of Roy Williams. (Evocative photo by Mark Bradley)

The Jackets ready for the men of Roy Williams. (Extremely evocative photo by Mark Bradley)

How strange is this? For Georgia Tech, a home date against the defending NCAA champ has become one of two “should-win” games remaining. (The other involves Boston College.) Most seasons you’re happy — nay, ecstatic – with a split against North Carolina. These Jackets need to beat Carolina just to safeguard what seems to be an invitation to the Big Dance.

As noted yesterday, Tech is in decent shape for a team that has lost three of four and is 5-6 in its conference. But losing tonight could grease the chute toward the no-account NIT. The Jackets still have to go to Maryland and to Clemson, and they’ve got Virginia Tech, which is 20-4, here in the regular-season finale. With Tech’s RPI (29th) and strength of schedule (12th), a 7-9 ACC record would probably be enough. But 6-10 might not.

The good news: The Heels stink. They’ve lost seven of nine, and the victories were against North Carolina State, which is even worse than UNC-Chapel Hill. And Carolina will be missing its most talented man — forward Ed Davis broke his wrist in a loss against Duke last week and is probably done for the year. (And possibly for his undergraduate career. He was projected as a lottery pick not so long ago.)

Fun fact: If Carolina, which is 14-11, loses tonight, Roy Williams will have suffered a 12th loss for only the second time in 22 seasons as a head coach. His first Kansas team, inherited from the deserter Larry Brown, finished 19-12. These Heels will finish a lot worse than those Jayhawks, a realization that led Ol’ Roy, regrettably, to liken his team’s losing to the plight of Haitians. (Williams has since apologized.)

There’s so much about this game that feels bizarre. It’s the first time since March 1, 2003, that Tech has faced an unranked Carolina. (Williams was still at KU then, and Matt Doherty was about to be deposed.) The Jackets are unranked — they disappeared from the major polls yesterday — but are 6 1/2-point favorites. But I’m guessing there’ll be a goodly complement of folks wearing baby blue at the Thrillerdome nonetheless. Just wondering how many Tech fans show.

And with that, I’ll be happy to take your questions, your comments and your money. (Just kidding about the latter.) I’ll be here until the final horn, which stands to come a bit after 11 p.m. Join me, won’t you?

P.S. If you haven’t participated in today’s burning discussion — who’s having the better season, Tech or Georgia? – please avail yourself of the opportunity. We’ll hold your place in line.

424 comments Add your comment

David

February 16th, 2010
8:18 pm

Southern football

February 16th, 2010
8:18 pm

Southern football

February 16th, 2010
8:19 pm

Blast… By seconds..

wike55

February 16th, 2010
8:20 pm

Tech will NOT make the tournment

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:21 pm

David is the No. 1 seed tonight, so to speak. Kudos.

David

February 16th, 2010
8:23 pm

Mark,

How is the crowd shaping up, should be no excuse for arriving late for a 9pm game, should be interesting to see if the house is full, support for Hewitt is growing thin, that being said it’s the players that deserve a full house.. Care to make a prediction on the over /under on Time Outs used in the first half by CPH? I say three…

Here*Not*There

February 16th, 2010
8:25 pm

Who is carrying the game on T.V.?

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:25 pm

We should make that a contest, David. Predict the time of Hewitt’s first TO. (Or, even better, his last.)

We’ve got 35 minutes until tipoff. Crowd not huge yet.

David

February 16th, 2010
8:26 pm

I will trade that number 1 seed, for a any seed for the Jackets in the Big Dance… RPI of 29 or not, could get dicey in a hurry.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:26 pm

Raycom has the telecast. What station is that in Atlanta? (I lose track.)

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:27 pm

The only way it gets nerve-wracking is if the Jackets lose again at home. If it happens, I don’t see it happening tonight.

David

February 16th, 2010
8:29 pm

I say he doesn’t make it to the under 16 TV timeout, prediction 17:20

EPt Buzzer

February 16th, 2010
8:29 pm

As a life long Tech fan I find this hard to type; but, UGA is clearly having the better year to date. Mark Fox has taken a group of men that the Bad News Bears would have rejected and turned them in a direction that will only help recruiting into the future. Paul Hewitt has taken a bunch of NBA picks and soured their next step. Not yet on the Fire PH bandwagon, but anything less than strong runs in the ACC and NCAA tournys will keep me off for long.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:30 pm

Tech’s probable starters: Rice, Favors, Bell, Lawal and Shumpert.

David

February 16th, 2010
8:30 pm

Let’s not get crazy EPt Buzzer….

EPt Buzzer

February 16th, 2010
8:31 pm

It’s channel 36 local; 13 on Comcast

David

February 16th, 2010
8:31 pm

Good to see Rice getting the probable start, need to see Oliver play 20+ tonight..

EPt Buzzer

February 16th, 2010
8:32 pm

Just stating the apparently obvious.

David

February 16th, 2010
8:33 pm

Would like to see Oliver get 20+ min tonight, good see Rice get the probable start.

EPt Buzzer

February 16th, 2010
8:37 pm

Happy Mardi Gras everybody. I’m giving up booze for Lent so if my spelling gets squirrely as the evening goes on you’ll know why!

todd grantham

February 16th, 2010
8:39 pm

Mark, make the prediction; Tech wins.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:39 pm

Yes, EPt Buzzer. It’s Ash Wednesday tomorrow.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:40 pm

Tech wins. Unless it loses.

jaymin

February 16th, 2010
8:41 pm

hey mark who is having a better year as a duo: Lawal and Favors or Leslie and Thompkins? I’d say Leslie and Thompkins but too bad they don’t have the supporting cast that GT has.

Southern football

February 16th, 2010
8:41 pm

Pick one Mark. So all of us Gamblers can pick the opposite

RAMBLE ON!!!

February 16th, 2010
8:41 pm

Oh no, Mark. You said it, you fully expect GT to win tonight.

FullMetalJacket

February 16th, 2010
8:42 pm

I didn’t buy season tickets this year because of Hewitt. I did buy a home-game package including tonight’s game as a gift to my wife (NCSU and VT alumna), but neither of us had an interest in tonight’s game. I couldn’t find another Tech fan for them either (and I don’t give/sell tickets to opponents) so I am holding my $45 each tickets, blogging with my favorite AJC columnist, and soon to be watching a DVD. Sad to say, but I don’t think I am the only Tech fan who has had enough of Hewitt.

EPt Buzzer

February 16th, 2010
8:42 pm

Way to be unequivocably on the fence, MB!

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:42 pm

Leslie and Thompkins are having the better year as a duo, jaymin. Thompkins is third in the SEC in scoring.

todd grantham

February 16th, 2010
8:43 pm

Mark, of course Georgia is having a better season. Fox is making something out of nothing, and Hewitt can’t coach is way out of the arena. Well wait, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:43 pm

I do think Tech will win.

Scott

February 16th, 2010
8:43 pm

Mark,

I will say that watching that Carolina blue run out onto the court is pretty cool. Alot of tradition. their fans still travel. Alot of them there yet?
scott

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:44 pm

There are quite a few Heel fans here, Scott. But not an overwhelming number.

RAMBLE ON!!!

February 16th, 2010
8:45 pm

Where’s Carroll, she’s had enough already?

can’t blame her.

todd grantham

February 16th, 2010
8:45 pm

Mark, a suggestion for your Lenten pennance: write willie martinez a letter telling him how much you regret all the sniping, criticism, and mean jokes you used at his expense.

FullMetalJacket

February 16th, 2010
8:45 pm

Looking forward to hearing your take on the home crowd (both numbers and enthusiasm) after they have all arrived.

jaymin

February 16th, 2010
8:46 pm

My questions than is why is Mark Fox not able to sign any big time recruits? We all know Cady Lalanne is nothing more than a role player. Has that always been the knock on him? that he can’t recruit worth a lick but can coach em up, similar to Tubby Smith

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:46 pm

Ms. Carroll Rogers is seated next to me, Ramble On!!

EPt Buzzer

February 16th, 2010
8:46 pm

Agreed CTG, wonder the chances of GT luring Fox to a real basketball conference next year?

todd grantham

February 16th, 2010
8:47 pm

i believe he can be reached care of the oklahoma sooners.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:47 pm

I don’t know that Fox has that reputation, jaymin. But it’s noteworthy that his three best Nevada teams came in his first three seasons, not his final two.

David

February 16th, 2010
8:48 pm

The opposing fan #’s do not seem to bother me at Alexander Memorial, we are in Atlanta the home to 11 of 12 of the ACC’s largest alumni groups.

Scott

February 16th, 2010
8:48 pm

Is Roy williams considered a “class act” by the media? Seems like a nice enough guy

todd grantham

February 16th, 2010
8:48 pm

i wonder how mrs bradley and mr rogers feel about that…

woodie

February 16th, 2010
8:49 pm

Tech used to be a fun program to watch but with this regime the fans have been dropping off year after year and so has my interest. I would like to see some new blood next year if they can afford the buy-out but I’m afraid they will be stuck with Hewitt for several more years. Until then I’ll direct my interests elsewhere like playing my guitar more.

FullMetalJacket

February 16th, 2010
8:49 pm

For all my (justifiable) criticism of Hewitt, I think the Jackets have a chance to win tonight because the Heels are just soooo bad. That being said, I am expecting UNC to win it outright. Hewitt has lost all credibility with the fans (and I hear the administration, too) so the team can’t be far behind in recognizing his nearly lame duck status.

todd grantham

February 16th, 2010
8:50 pm

by the way, make sure willie gets your letter April 1st.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
8:50 pm

Different media types see Ol’ Roy different ways. I think he’s a tad too corny, but I have no huge objections.

Scott

February 16th, 2010
8:51 pm

Mark,

Is Roy Willams considered a class act by the media types like yourself? Seems like a good guy.

miles

February 16th, 2010
8:51 pm

Don’t you think Oliver should start over Rice, or maybe they should both start and Bell shouldn’t. I’m still waiting to see Bell return to his form before injury.