GEORGIA TECH (16-12, 7-8) at NOTRE DAME (21-7, 10-5)
Where: Purcell Pavilion (9,149) *sold out
Rankings: Notre Dame is ranked 21st; Georgia Tech is unranked.
Time/TV: 6:30 p.m./ESPNU
Matchup History: Sunday’s matchup between Notre Dame and Georgia Tech is the 16th all time. The Yellow Jackets lead the series 9-6. Georgia Tech won the last matchup, a 62-60 victory Jan. 28 in Atlanta.
“We’ve been looking forward to this game after what happened down there. We felt that one slipped away and we forced it a couple times in transition down there. We’ve got to get better shots every time down the floor against them. They’re a good defensive team and they move you around on offense, so it’s really important to get good shots against them every time.” — Notre Dame junior guard Matt Farrell on facing Georgia Tech
“Look, I believe for us to be in the NCAA Tournament, we have to be 9-9 [in ACC play]. If we get to nine wins, I truly believe we’re in. So we’re at seven [wins]. And we’re going to have to get two more out of this [final] three. It’d be great if we got all three, and if we don’t get to 9-9, I still believe 8-10 should get you in the NCAA Tournament in this league, but we’re probably going to have to do some damage in the ACC Tournament, at least one or two games.” — Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner after Tuesday’s loss to North Carolina State
Different Irish: Since playing the Yellow Jackets Jan. 28, Notre Dame has moved to a five-out offensive scheme, inserting a fourth guard into the lineup and spacing the floor. It has worked wonders during the team’s current four-game winning streak, with the Irish eclipsing 80 points in each game. That’s a far cry from the 60 Brey’s squad put up against Georgia Tech in the first matchup. While the Irish are at a size disadvantage, they were holding their own rebounding the ball.
“We like to think that teams have to adjust to us going forward,” Farrell said. “We’re excited. We’re going to do things a little different against them this time and we’re excited to try and get it back.
“We might have trouble rebounding, but then you might have trouble guarding us. It works both ways. When we do rebound, that’s when we can be really special. In the games that we’ve won against teams that kind of should be out-rebounding us, we’ve held our ground and it’s going to be tough for teams to guard us when we do that. It’ll be interesting to see how they defend us.”
Scouting Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets don’t score the ball well (ranked 257th in the country in offensive efficiency), but are near the top in defense. Pastner’s ability to switch between defenses has sparked Georgia Tech from a preseason pick of 14th to the NCAA Tournament bubble. The Yellow Jackets are ranked eighth in the country in defensive efficiency at 91.8. Led by junior big man Ben Lammers — who is averaging 3.4 blocks per game — Georgia Tech is third in the country in block percentage (16.2).
“They’re still a tough matchup because they’re hard to score on,” head coach Mike Brey said. “They’ve got good perimeter defending guards and then they’ve got Lammers in the back that blocks shots. They change defenses on you and they’re really hard to score against.
“It’s a challenge for our offense, which happens to be in a good flow right now.”
Matchup to Watch: All eyes will be on the matchup in the post between Notre Dame junior forward Bonzie Colson and Georgia Tech’s Lammers. Colson had 13 points and 13 rebounds in the first game, while Lammers tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“Lammers is an amazing rim protector, the best in the league,” Brey said. “If he doesn’t block it, he’s got you thinking about it. We’ve got to spread them out more and make them chase us and get some stops where we can get out and run and get down before they’re set.
Colson, who stands just 6-5 but leads the ACC in rebounding at 10.5 per game, welcomes the challenge of going against 6-10 Lammers.
“He’s improved since we played and he’s going to be a tough matchup,” Colson said. “He can post, he can stretch, he can rebound. It’s great challenge, a great matchup and I’m looking forward to it.
“He just uses his length to his advantage. He has good timing, he has good bounce and he’s athletic.”
Projected Notre Dame Starters:
35 Bonzie Colson (6-5, 225, Jr.) — 16.7 ppg., 10.5 rpg.
3 V.J. Beachem (6-8, 201, Sr.) — 15.4 ppg., 3.8 rpg.
5 Matt Farrell (6-1, 178, Jr.) — 14.2 ppg., 5.6 apg.
32 Steve Vasturia (6-6, 212, Sr.) — 14.0 ppg., 3.3 apg.
0 Rex Pflueger (6-6, 202, So.) — 4.7 ppg., 2.4 rpg.
2 T.J. Gibbs (6-3, 200, Fr.) — 5.3 ppg., 1.9 apg.
4 Matt Ryan (6-7, 228, So.) — 3.6 pp.g, 1.0 rpg.
23 Martinas Geben (6-10, 255, Jr.) — 3.3 ppg., 3.7 rpg.
1 Austin Torres (6-7, 241, Sr.) — 1.6 ppg., 1.7 rpg.
Projected Georgia Tech Starters:
44 Ben Lammers (6-10, 227, Jr.) — 14.7 ppg., 9.3 rpg.
5 Josh Okogie (6-4, 207, Fr.) — 15.6 ppg., 4.9 rpg.
12 Quinton Stephens (6-9, 196, Sr.) — 9.9 ppg., 7.8 rpg.
11 Josh Heath (6-2, 175, Sr.) — 5.7 ppg., 4.5 apg.
30 Corey Heyward (6-1, 212, Sr.) — 2.1 ppg., 1.9 rpg.
1 Tadric Jackson (6-2, 209, Jr.) — 11.7 ppg., 2.5 rpg.
0 Justin Moore (6-4, 162, Fr.) — 4.9 ppg., 4.5 apg.
24 Sylvester Ogbonda (6-10, 231, Fr.) – 1.6 ppg., 1.2 rpg.
Notre Dame 75, Georgia Tech 65