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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 01/25/2011

Virginia Tech will try to slow down Shumpert, Georgia Tech

By Mark Giannotto

There's been some movement in the rankings the past few days, which means when Virginia Tech takes the floor in Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on Tuesday in search of its 11th win in 12 games, the Hokies will do so with a much-improved NCAA tournament resume. Over the weekend, both Florida State (46) and Penn State (50) moved up in the RPI, improving the Hokies' record to 3-4 against RPI top 50 teams.

The Yellow Jackets (154) do not provide an opportunity to improve on that mark, but a loss would eliminate much of the progress Virginia Tech has made of late. And yet Georgia Tech is a tough team to figure out, and entirely capable of derailing the Hokies' hot streak.

It was only nine days ago that the Yellow Jackets defeated North Carolina by 20 at home, but they've also got some embarrassing losses to the likes of Kennesaw State, Siena and Charlotte this year. Georgia Tech does sport a 7-2 mark at Alexander Memorial Coliseum thus far.

The matchup to watch resides on the perimeter, where Georgia Tech features dynamic junior Iman Shumpert. He leads the Yellow Jackets in points (16.5), rebounds (5.7) and assists (3.4) this year.

"I thought coming out of high school, he was the best guard in the country," Coach Seth Greenberg said of Shumpert. "I’ve always loved his game watching him at those elite camps. I thought he had range, he was aggressive, he could attack. He was tough and he had a good feel for the game. I still feel that way.”

They've also got sophomore guard Glen Rice Jr., (yes, he's related to that Glen Rice), who is averaging almost 13 points per game and has a smooth shooting stroke just like his father. Be wary of senior guard Maurice Miller as well. During his freshman year, he exploded for 29 points against the Hokies.

That, though, would seem to play right into Virginia Tech's strengths. Both senior Malcolm Delaney and sophomore Erick Green have been tremendous recently. On Monday, Green was named ACC player of the week after averaging 19 points in the Hokies' two wins last week. Delaney, meanwhile, has averaged 19.8 points and 6.3 assists over Virginia Tech's past four games.

Expect to see the Hokies to go back to the 2-3 zone that has worked so well recently, after playing mostly man-to-man defense against Longwood this past Saturday. The Yellow Jackets are the worst three-point-shooting team in the ACC, hitting just more than 30 percent of their shots from long range. They've attempted 347 three pointers this year, and have just one player (reserve Jason Morris) shooting at better than a 35 percent clip.

I've already detailed just how poor the Yellow Jackets three-point defense has been this season.

This game will resemble many that the Hokies will play down the stretch. A win won't get them in the NCAA tournament, but a loss could keep them out. Virginia Tech has just four games remaining against RPI top 50 teams. If Virginia Tech plays as it did last Thursday against Maryland, there will be little the Yellow Jackets can do. That, though, is easier said than done coming into enemy territory.

“We beat Georgia tech at home last year so we know what it takes to beat them," Delaney said. "We’re confident going on the road. We’re a good road team."

By Mark Giannotto  | January 25, 2011; 9:30 AM ET
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What's funny is that at this point in the season all the games seem like "must wins" or "must not loses".

Posted by: Benson | January 25, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

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