Georgia Tech to the Final Four? That’s not the fact, Jack

I wish I could say I see the Jackets sticking around longer, but I'd be lying. (AP photo)

I wish I could say I see the Jackets sticking around longer, but I'd be lying. (AP photo)

Just when  I was thinking Georgia Tech could make a nice NCAA tournament run, reality interceded. (Reality is a killjoy.) The committee released its bracket and handed the Jackets the 10th seed in the Midwest. Given the 10th seed in the South or the West, they might well have won two or three — heck, why not four? — games.  As is, I can’t see them winning more than once. The reasons:

• The opposition is fearsome. When Tech reached the 2004 Final Four, it was the No. 3 seed in a regional featuring a good-but-not-great Kentucky and Gonzaga as Nos. 1 and 2. (Each was upset in Round 2.)  This year Kansas is the best No. 1 seed in the grid, Ohio State the strongest No. 2, Georgetown the most robust No. 3. The committee insists it tries to follow an “S” curve in its seedings, meaning the weakest No. 1 will be bracketed with the strongest No. 2, but the composition of the Midwest looks more like a “X.” Which, for the No. 10 seed in the toughest regional, should mean, “You’re X-cused.” Speaking of which …

• Tech should have been better than a No. 10. That’s why those close losses to Florida State and Miami and even Georgia were so debilitating. We just saw Tech prove it has the best talent in the ACC, but it finished seventh in a 12-team league. You can argue — I’m sure Paul Hewitt will — that a young team needed time to grow, but the reality of college basketball is that no team outruns a checkered resume. That said, a 10th seed representing a powerful league might still punch above its weight …

• But the ACC in 2009-2010 wasn’t a heavyweight division. Look how the committee viewed the proud league. Duke got a No. 1 seed, but Maryland, which tied Duke for first place in the regular season, was handed a No. 4 and shipped to Spokane. Florida State and Wake Forest, seeded fourth and fifth in the ACC tournament, are No. 9s. And Virginia Tech, which finished third in the ACC and was 10-6 in league play, didn’t get invited. And that’s why …

• As stirring as the Jackets’ run to the ACC final was, it wasn’t accomplished against Murderer’s Row. Two of Tech’s three victories were against North Carolina and N.C. State, teams that finished 10th and 11th in the league. Usually the ACC toughens a team for the Big Dance — in 2004, Tech’s coaches were confident they’d beat Oklahoma State in the Final Four because they considered their league superior to the Big 12 — but that’s not the case now. The Big 12 and the Big Ten and the Big East were demonstrably better. And that’s why …

• As gifted as they are, the Jackets aren’t going to overwhelm Ohio State (or Georgetown or Kansas) with manpower. They averaged 18 turnovers against 12 assists and made 58.2 percent of their free throws in four ACC tournament games — and nearly won the thing. No matter how many big-time players you have, you have to treasure the ball and make free throws to last long in the Big Dance. There has never been a doubt about this team’s talent and there’s no longer a question about its tenacity, but its execution too often goes walkabout. Which is why …

• Even after the daring doings in Greensboro, the Jackets are a team redeemed but not quite transformed. They don’t have the guards you need to win in the NCAA tournament. (Is there any doubt their best lineup includes both Moe Miller and Iman Shumpert, if for no other reason than Miller tries harder to feed the post?) Put Jarrett Jack on this squad and he might just do as he did in 2004 — take Tech from Milwaukee to  St. Louis to the Final Four. But he left five years ago, and the Jackets haven’t yet found another Jack. To which we say, alas and alack.

If you haven’t yet entered Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco, you can do so by clicking here. And if you’d care to see my bracket, it can be found here.

138 comments Add your comment

snoop

March 15th, 2010
1:15 pm

snoop

March 15th, 2010
1:15 pm

Captain Oveur

March 15th, 2010
1:17 pm

“Joey, you ever been in a turkish prison?” Just wanted to pour some out for Peter Graves who died.

Freshmaker

March 15th, 2010
1:21 pm

Agreed, Mark. It’s a shame Tech hasn’t been able to better harness its talent. This was the year for us to do some damage since we were able to land Favors. After his performances in the ACC tourney, though, I’d have to think he’s a one-and-done for sure. Ahh the opportunities lost…

Tim Tebow's Tears

March 15th, 2010
1:22 pm

That’s why they play the games. Go Jackets

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 15th, 2010
1:34 pm

I am entered in the final four fiasco and I have tech in my sweet sixteen , so I hope you are wrong (probably not) is there a prize for the worst bracket filled out ?

T3

March 15th, 2010
1:38 pm

For 2011:

Derrick Favors: Gone
Gani Lawal: Likely Gone
D’Andre Bell: Gone
Zack Peacock: Gone

If GT gets bounced out by OKST in 1st round, all the “feel-good” sentiment
from the ACC-T will be fade quickly, and we’ll be right back where we were right after the VT loss.

And, if we acutally do get by OKST, no way we get pass Ohio State.

Does CPH…REALLY want to come back to a GT fan base…
that booed him at the last two home games…with a roster without these four guys?

By the way, today was “Decision Day” for D-Rad.

He had until today to notify CPH of his intentions to renew or not renew CPH’s contract.

No press conference this morning so I guess that means D-Rad renewed it.

The $7M question that remains: Will CPH take the St Johns job after GT exits the NCAA-T?

I’m guessing that CPH will take the St Johns job after GT exits.

btgt69

March 15th, 2010
1:44 pm

“I’m sure Paul Hewitt will” is another in a long line of sarcastic destructive comments which are not needed in this otherwise good article. Why the witch hunt?

Bristol Palin 2012

March 15th, 2010
1:44 pm

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN:

That’s a great idea! I should give you some keen competition for that award :)

shawn

March 15th, 2010
1:44 pm

Mark, I agree with you partially. Anything can happen. I am optimistic.

Paul in RDU

March 15th, 2010
1:49 pm

Mark – Excellent column and a good summary of ACC b’ball and GT’s position this year. To make a run in the tourney you need good D, a go to guy, good guard play and the ability to take care of the ball and make free throws. In the FF run GT had all of the elements but now they only have half of them.
You are correct about Jarrett Jack – a couple of weeks ago I looked at the GT-Kansas game from the 2004 tourney and Jack was the best player on the floor.
http://vault.ncaa.com/

Jesse Stone

March 15th, 2010
1:50 pm

Has Hewitt accepted the St. Johns job yet?

moboman

March 15th, 2010
1:50 pm

I agree with the MOE and Iman claim. Its an indictment against Hewitt that he wasted Miller on the bench for over a third of the season. You have to play a guard that has a point mentality, and he is the only one on the team that does. Our record, and seeding, would have been better had Moe not rotted on the bench for the early part of the season.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

Bristol Palin 2012

I dont know it might be a close race but I am pretty awesome at being wrong (almost in a league of my own )

VT Yellow Jacket

March 15th, 2010
1:57 pm

I hate to say it, but I agree. Jackets will be lucy to win one, and it’ll be a miracle if they’re playing the 2nd weekend.

VT Yellow Jacket

March 15th, 2010
2:01 pm

“the Jackets will be lucy…” Who the heck is lucy?

I meant LUCKY!!!!

MorningJacket

March 15th, 2010
2:02 pm

For any remaining doubters/dreamers, I know a Tech student who shares a class with Favors. They suggested to him he should stay, but he told them why should he have to study and work hard at Tech when he can make millions in the NBA.

VT Yellow Jacket

March 15th, 2010
2:03 pm

Oh, and I hate to say it because I’d love to see Tech go all the way, not because I don’t like to agree with MB. I tend to agree with Mark wholeheartedly when it comes to GT BB.

Bigstack O' Pancakes. It is an Irish name.

March 15th, 2010
2:11 pm

I think Va Tech got robbed by not making the tourney. 23-8. 10-6 in the ACC. How do they not get in? The selection committee is full of stupid people. That said, I see Georgia Tech going no farther than the 2nd round where The Ohio State will crush them.

JD

March 15th, 2010
2:12 pm

The boys of Mayhem in AM were asking why you are such a jerk with Paul Hewitt and when it became personal between you two. The also said you have no influence on anything including recruiting and that you are irrelevant. When did it become presonal between you and Steak?

EW

March 15th, 2010
2:12 pm

oooo he knows somebody who knows favors who knows somebody who knows somebody who told somebody’s cousin that Favors is going pro…get the F outta here with that nonsense.

Big Dawg

March 15th, 2010
2:13 pm

Seems to me that the Nerds need to play it one game at a time. Okie State SHOULD handle GT. They have better guards and control tempo better.

John Contract

March 15th, 2010
2:18 pm

73-66

Couldnt beat Georgia.

Ol Skool

March 15th, 2010
2:20 pm

Mark similar thoughts to what I posted in a blog yesterday. College basketball is heavily reliant on the point guard abilities. You take Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall off of the past three Calipari teams and they would be lucky to win one game in the tournament. I am not as optimistic as some of my fellow Techsters for that reason. I don’t know much about Oklahoma State or Ohio State. Both of those conferences are supposed to be better than the ACC this year. To be honest I am more afraid of the Cowboys than the Buckeyes. I have lost my respect for the Big Ten in the major sports the last few years. You are right we would probably be at least a two seed this year if we had a Jarret Jack-like point guard. Heck, if we had a Will Bynum caliber point guard we’d at least be a four seed. But the truth is as talented as Derrick and Gani are they rely on guards capable of running the show on the floor. But they made the dance, so let’s hope that I am wrong and we make it to the Sweet 16.

Peter Graves

March 15th, 2010
2:20 pm

You ever seen a grown man naked?

GT in CT

March 15th, 2010
2:20 pm

Mark (and others), I’m curious if you think Hewitt underestimated/misused Miller. Shumpert is not really a PG. I wonder how the team would have done with Miller as the #1 PG all year. I know he struggled the past couple years, but he obviously had more to work with this year. It seems Hewitt bet on Udofia and Shumpert, which didn’t work out.

Kay

March 15th, 2010
2:23 pm

Just you wait!!
Tech will do better than all you think.
I may be delusional, but they will win it al!!!!
Mark my word!

TomB

March 15th, 2010
2:33 pm

Spot on Mark. Guard play is essential in the tournament which this team definitely lacks. Shame too especially with the big men Tech has.

PMC

March 15th, 2010
2:34 pm

Kentucky is an extremely young team. They are winning. Tech’s problem is that Paul Hewitt has an extremely difficult time developing guards. When they are good, they have good guard play. The last several years they turn it over constantly and never get better over the course of the year. Tech rarely looks like a good fundamentally sound basketball team. That’s why they win games they shouldn’t and they lose LOTS of games they have no business losing.

Jordan

March 15th, 2010
2:35 pm

I agree, Tech won’t make it to the final four. Just the odds are against them, however there is a reason they almost won the ACC Tournament, DESPITE piss poor turnovers and free throw shooting, and that is :

DEFENSE.

If they keep their turnovers under 15 a game, and finish on the + side of the glass, they could make it. That being said, I think they WILL make it to the sweet 16. Ohio State has GREEEEEEEAT guard play but they don’t have anyone underneath. Lawal and Favors will eat them alive underneath (if they feed them the ball!) and with techs defense, they have a good chance to win that game IMO.

Against Tennessee or Georgetown they should be worried.

PMC

March 15th, 2010
2:36 pm

Also, Gani shoots too much. This team should have been about Derrick Favors. Not Gani Lawal.

Benjamin

March 15th, 2010
2:41 pm

Mark, this is wa-a-a-ay off topic, but my favorite quote about “reality” comes from author Donald Miller. (This is per your “Reality is a killjoy” statement. :) )

“Reality is like a fine wine. It will not appeal to children.”

That said, I think Tech will make it to the round of 32, which is about where I’ve pegged them since day one.

Benjamin

March 15th, 2010
2:43 pm

…and Kay, while I love the enthusiasm, you ARE delusional. lol

Good luck to your stingin’ bees, though….

T3

March 15th, 2010
2:48 pm

Just one loss…and we’ll back to talking about the bitterness after the VT loss, and the whole season.

HugoStiglitz

March 15th, 2010
2:49 pm

We would have to beat Ok St, Ohio St, GeorgeTown and Kansas to reach the final four. Im not sure any team in the country could pull that off.

Herschel Talker

March 15th, 2010
2:49 pm

Clearance Clarence

RIP Peter Graves

Benjamin

March 15th, 2010
2:55 pm

Syracuse could, Hugo.

Beyond that, I think you’re absolutely right. That’s a murderous four game stretch.

The Dogfighter Returns

March 15th, 2010
2:58 pm

the jackets will not make it past the first round. this is exactly how they are. they will crash and burn after their acc performance.

Without-a-clue

March 15th, 2010
3:02 pm

Thank God, it’s all most over! Then, we can watch some golf and baseball, play some of both, and wait for football to start.

Without-a-clue

March 15th, 2010
3:03 pm

“almost”. Got carried away.

85' Bears

March 15th, 2010
3:04 pm

If Tech can beat the OK State, it could sneak in the Final Four. Ok State has beaten Kansas, and Ohio State was beatean by North Carolina. Georgetown could be a challenge, but its possible IF they when against OK State, Tech can go to the Final Four

elviskl

March 15th, 2010
3:09 pm

DEAR MR. DOGFIGHTER, WHERE ARE THE BULLDOGS SEEDED IN THIS TOURNAMENT, OH I SEE THEM THERE THEY ARE…..SEEDED DEEP INTO YOUR AAAAAAA………S

Mike Singletary

March 15th, 2010
3:10 pm

It’s possible to win the lottery too, but highly unlikely.

Isn’t today the day they have to let Hewitt know one way or the other about his contract rollover? Anyone heard anything?

DoBoy

March 15th, 2010
3:16 pm

Tech will be one and done… They don’t take care of the basketball nearly enough to beat a decent team, which is all they’ll be facing in the NCAA tournament.

Grownup

March 15th, 2010
3:17 pm

Elviski is so full of it he has to blow his nose to pass gas.

Buzzzed

March 15th, 2010
3:29 pm

I’ll give Tech a 40% chance to win round 1 and a 10% changes to beat OSU in round 2.

ArkyTech

March 15th, 2010
3:32 pm

Mark, you certainly have this team figured out.

gb

March 15th, 2010
3:32 pm

this young team only had 1 sr, 1 rs sr, 1 rs jr, 3 jr’s and 1 experienced soph. there are 3 to 5 first rd picks counting the freshmen. what gt needs is a basketball coach.

GT

March 15th, 2010
3:33 pm

Foul shots, you can’t win missing them. Lawal needs to be practicing them as we speak. Get one of those machines that has the canvas around the hole, shoot 500 a day. Don’t quit till you have hit 10 in a row. Duke does it all summer, on both sides of the court, superstars all summer long. More important than weight lifting, or anything else these guys are doing. Maybe the weight lifting is the problem, too stiff to shoot. I think it is because he doesn’t practice.

Rabun Dawg

March 15th, 2010
3:36 pm

Mark, Just looked at your picks Do you really think that Louisville will get that far, likewise Siena? And West Va. taking out the beloved Cats? They will tar and feather you on your next trip to Lexington! And, just how did Wake make it in? Other than beating Clemson down the stretch, that team is a train wreck. Va. Tech should have gotten in ahead of Wake. Just who is the coach at Ok. State? I do believe all of the Suttons are gone? Watch out for New Mexico, they are a solid team!