As you filled out your bracket this week many of you possibly followed the standard and picked the favorites in most of the games. I have a couple of underdogs making a nice little run in my bracket. Then, we have teams that maybe come from power conferences, but are seeded a little lower and off the radar a bit. That is what we are discussing today here at The Sports Debates. Who is a possible sleeper in the Big Dance? There are several contenders and Bleacher Fan and Sports Geek address a few of them. I am going to go with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Before making a deep run in the ACC Tournament… before eventually falling to Duke… the Yellow Jackets were squarely on the bubble. It was a season that had been maddening to Yellow Jacket fans, with some calling for the head of coach Paul Hewitt. Hewitt expressed frustration with the local press, and Athletic Director Dan Radakovich failed to give Hewitt a vote of confidence before the ACC Tournament. But, after possibly being helping by Hewitt’s idea of taking away the players’ cell phones while in Greensboro last week (and planning to do so again in Milwaukee this weekend), the Jackets knocked off North Carolina, Maryland, and N.C. State before finally losing a close one to Duke in the conference tournament finals. Now, they go into Friday’s first round game against Oklahoma State riding that wave of momentum. The team is now definitely a threat to make some noise.
If you have watched the Jackets at all this season you know the strength of their team is down low with future lottery picks Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. Favors, who is a likely candidate to be yet another one and done player for Georgia Tech, is coming off a strong ACC Tournament where he scored 22 points in the championship against the Blue Devils. He and Lawal, who is averaging slightly over 13 points per game, figure to give the Cowboys fits down low.
The key to beating OSU, and to making a deep run in the tournament, lies with point guard Iman Shumpert. He averaged ten points per game during an inconsistent regular season. Hewitt recently said, “If Iman is on his game, we’re really, really good.” Hewitt is exactly right. Unfortunately, Iman has not always been really, really good, as evidenced by his 111-87 assist to turnover ratio. He is also going to have his hands full guarding Big XII Player of the Year James Anderson.
Beat the Cowboys and Georgia Tech earned a likely matchup with Ohio State. I am not as big on Ohio State as my counterparts are, so I think it is quite possible that the Yellow Jackets could knock off the Buckeyes. If that happens, the rest of the Midwest region better take note!