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What To Watch For Vs. Florida State

The matchup with the Noles kicks off ACC play.
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Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, because conference play is here. Not only is it here, but the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-6, 1-1) are not being eased into it. The main slate of Atlantic Coast Conference games will begin with a road trip down to Tallahassee, with the Jackets taking on Leonard Hamilton's Florida State Seminoles (10-2, 1-1). Tipoff is set for 12:00pm this Tuesday, December 31st at Rupp Arena, and can be found on ESPN2/U.

The New Year's Eve matchup with the Noles continues an already loaded schedule for the Jackets. Up to this point, Georgia Tech has the 53rd ranked Strength of Schedule, and has twice played 3 games in a single week.

Here are a couple of the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Tech's 72nd all-time matchup with the Seminoles:

Defensive Juggernaut:

Much like Georgia Tech, Florida State is a team predicated on defense, Not only do they have one of the best defenses in the ACC, but it is also one of the best in the nation. So far this season, they are averaging:

- 9.7 steals per game (1st in ACC, 17th in D1)

- 5.3 blocks per game (3rd in ACC, 32nd in D1)

- 18.58 turnovers forced (1st in ACC, 12th in D1)

According to KenPom, FSU has the 4th best steal percentage, 5th best turnover percentage and 6th best block percentage in all of Division I. With how much the Yellow Jackets have struggled with turnovers so far this season, those woes could very well be amplified down in Tallahassee.

Trouble On The Boards:

There have been many times this season where the Jackets have struggled in the rebounding department. Whether that be because they are out of position or just simply being out-muscled to the ball, occasionally they have been prone rebounding lapses.

Fortunately for them, they might have themselves at a bit of an advantage against the Noles, particularly on the offensive side. As a whole, GT only averages around 2 boards more per game than FSU. However, Florida State only had 1 player averaging more than 5 rebounds per game (Malik Osbourne - 5.1) whereas the Jackets have 2 that average more than 7 (James Banks III - 7.3, Moses Wright - 7.8).

As stout as FSU's defense is, what could keep them in the game on that end of the floor will be offensive rebounding. The Noles average only 24.08 defensive rebounds per game (281st in D1, 2nd worst in ACC) and have an offensive rebounding percentage of 31.7% (292nd in D1, 4th worst in ACC).

Spread Offense:

Florida State's offense might not be as good as their defense, but it is still a top 50 offense in all of Division I. Interestingly enough, FSU's offense is pretty spread out and they don't particularly have a "go-to" guy, as their top 3 scorers have PPG averages that are within 1.3 points of each other.

There is a catch-22 to this. While no one has emerged as the premier scorer for the Seminoles, they all still have potential to contribute heavily to the cause. Senior guard Trent Forrest can distribute the ball well with his 3.6 assists per game, sophomore guard Devin Vassell leads the team in field goals and three pointers, and both MJ Walker & Patrick Williams have been reliable from the charity stripe. Georgia Tech will have to continue with their disciplined defense if they have any hope of coming out of Tallahassee with a win.

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