Nov. 27, 2012
Champaign, Ill. – Georgia Tech, on the final leg of its only road trip of the pre-conference season, visits undefeated and 22nd-ranked Illinois at 9 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday night in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge series at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill.
Tech (4-1) is coming off a third-place finish in the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim, Calif., where it sandwiched victories over Rice (54-36) and Saint Mary’s (65-56) around a loss to California (68-57), the tournament champion. Illinois (7-0) rolled through the field to win the EA Sports Maui Invitational last week, defeating Southern California, Chaminade and Butler by an average of 23.3 points.
Wednesday’s game is being televised nationally on ESPN2 and can be viewed online through the WatchESPN app or ESPN3. The Tech radio broadcast can be heard over the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network (790 AM, 106.7 FM in Atlanta), while the Illinois radio broadcast can be heard on satellite radio on Sirius Ch. 113 and XM Ch. 191.
Tech, in its second season under head coach Brian Gregory, began its season with a pair of home court wins over Tulane (79-61) and Presbyterian (52-38) before its eight-day trip to California and Illinois.
Illinois, in its first season under head coach John Groce, is 7-0 for the second straight year. winning its games by an average of 16.7 points. But the Illini have had two close shaves, requiring an overtime to win at Hawaii (78-77) on Nov. 16 and escaping with a 63-62 win over Gardner-Webb at home on Sunday.
Following Wednesday’s game, Tech returns to action Dec. 4, hosting state-rival Georgia in the first of seven straight home games.
Tech is 4-1 for the first time since the 2010-11 season. Tech has not been 5-1 since the 2009-10 season.
The Yellow Jackets’ third-place finish in the DirecTV Classic was their best finish in a holiday tournament since finishing third in the 2007 Paradise Jam.
Wednesday’s game pits two head coaches who won the Maui Invitational in their first time there – John Groce led the Illini to the title last week, and Brian Gregory led Dayton to the 2003 title, becoming the first non-BCS team to win that championship.
* The Illinois game caps a three-game stretch in which the Yellow Jackets have played two teams receiving votes in the national polls (California, Saint Mary’s) and a team ranked No. 22 (Illinois), the first top 25 team Tech has faced this year.
Illinois has won 18 straight non-conference games in Assembly Hall. The last loss for the Illini came to Brian Gregory’s Dayton team on March 24, 2010. The Flyers went on to win the NIT that year. Illinois’ last regular-season loss to a non-conference team at home was Dec. 2, 2008 to Clemson, and the Illini have won 30 straight regular-season non-conference games at home.
Marcus Georges-Hunt was named ACC Rookie of the Week Monday, the first Tech freshmen to earn that honor since the 2009-10 season, when Derrick Favors won it four times and current senior Mfon Udofia won it once.
Tech’s most frequent starting lineup this season has been Mfon Udofia and Brandon Reed at the guard, Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter, Jr., at the forwards and Daniel Miller at center. Jason Morris started in place of Georges-Hunt against California.
Tech has not played a game closer than nine points so far. Its four wins have come by an average of 14.8 points.
Tech has held its opponents to 51.8 points per game, second-best in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have held two opponents under 40 points, and yielded no more than 68 (68-57 loss to California).
Tech’s opponents have shot 37.1 percent from the floor collectively, second in the ACC. California had the best success rate at 44.2 percent. Tech’s three-point percentage yield (28.6 percent) is third-best in the ACC.
Tech ranks second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in turnover margin and seventh in assist/turnover ratio after ranking last in those categories a year ago. The Yellow Jackets have a plus-2.8 turnover margin and a 1.1 assist/turnover ratio.
TECH IN THE ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE
Georgia Tech holds a 4-8 mark in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and has lost its last four straight in the crossover series after dropping a 76-60 decision to Northwestern in 2011 at Philips Arena.
Tech has played six “home” games in the series, including the very first in 1999, an 80-77 loss to Michigan at Philips Arena. Four of the games were played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where Tech defeated Wisconsin (2001) and Michigan (2004) and went 1-1 against Penn State (2006, 2008).
The Yellow Jackets have a 1-5 mark in ACC/Big Ten Challenge games on the road. The Yellow Jackets’ only road win in the series occurred in 2003, a 73-53 win at Ohio State the year in which Tech reached the NCAA Championship game. Tech also has visited Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana and Northwestern.
This is Tech’s first meeting with Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, leaving Nebraska and Purdue as the only Big Ten teams the Yellow Jackets have left to face in the annual series.
TECH AND ILLINOIS HAVE PLAYED ALL OVER THE MAP
Georgia Tech and Illinois have met seven times previously in men’s basketball, and Wednesday’s meeting in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge will be only the second time the two teams have met on one or the other’s campus arena. Year-by-year results on page 3.
Illinois holds a 6-1 lead in the all-time series which dates back to December of 1966, and five of the seven meetings have been played on neutral courts. The teams have played in the Bruin Classic in Pauley Pavilion (1966), the Chicago Classic (1967), the NCAA East Regional in Providence, R.I. (1985), the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu (1988) and Las Vegas, Nev. (2001).
The other meeting was a regular-season game at the Omni in Atlanta, which counted as a home game for the 4th-ranked Yellow Jackets and was won by the unranked Illini, 59-57, on March 1, 1986.
The Fighting Illini escaped with a 102-92 win in double-overtime against the 20th-ranked Yellow Jackets at Assembly Hall on Jan. 22, 1989, the only other time the teams have played in Champaign.
The 1985 NCAA Regional meeting was a Sweet Sixteen game, won by the 6th-ranked Yellow Jackets over the 17th-ranked Illini, 61-53, and remains the only victory for Tech in the series. Tech advanced to a regional final game against No. 1 Georgetown, which it lost by six.
The most recent meeting was also the most lopsided in the series, a 105-66 win for Illinois at the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 23, 2001, Tech’s second year under former head coach Paul Hewitt.
One of Tech’s two meetings with Xavier occurred on a neutral court, in the 1956 Queen City Tournament in Buffalo, N.Y. Xavier is the only team in the field whom Brian Gregory has faced as a head coach, compiling a 6-14 mark at Dayton against the Musketeers as Atlantic 10 Conference foes.