The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will host the No. 2 team in the nation on Wednesday night when the Duke Blue Devils come to town. Duke is currently ranked second in the nation by the Associated Press but No. 1 in Ken Pomeroy’s Kenpom rankings. The Blue Devils are 13-1 on the season, with their lone stumble coming in the form of a home loss to Southland Conference power Stephen F. Austin.
Duke will be without freshman forward Wendell Moore after he broke his hand in Duke’s most recent game, a 30-point blowout of ACC foe Miami. Moore is averaging 7.4 points and 3.9 rebounds on the season in roughly 22 minutes per game.
The good news for Duke is the recent return of point guard Tre Jones, who has been dinged up this season. Jones has played in two games since returning and is averaging 23 minutes per game with a ridiculous 15:4 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Blue Devils have been led all season by freshman big man Vernon Carey Jr. who is averaging 18.4 points, nine rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
Georgia Tech is coming off of a huge road victory in Chapel Hill against a shorthanded North Carolina squad. The Yellow Jackets were led by junior forward Moses Wright with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Wright is quietly having one of the best seasons of anyone in the ACC, averaging 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds on the season. In his last five games, those averages are 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.
He is also shooting 74 percent from the free-throw line in that span, a vast improvement over his 52 percent career rate.
Duke is a 12-point favorite playing on the road, with the over/under set at 139.
Looking To Continue Dominance
Few matchups are as one-sided as this one has been in the last decade. The Blue Devils are a perfect 10-0 against Georgia Tech in their last 10 meetings, including 4-0 at McCamish Pavilion, with an average point differential of 11.
The Blue Devils enter the game at 9-5 against the spread on the season and an impressive 5-1 ATS in road and neutral site games. They are 9-5 in the over/under, with seven of their last 10 totals going over.
Tech Looks To Sting The Devils
Unlike in seasons past, this Georgia Tech team is deep and has talent all over the court. The problem has been the intangibles. The Yellow Jackets don’t shoot free throws well at 64.3 percent, they don’t shoot well from deep (28.6 percent), and they turn the ball over at the 331st-worst rate in the country (23.2 percent).
However, since Jose Alvarado’s return five games ago, the Yellow Jackets have averaged at least 0.89 points per possession in four of the five games and 0.99 points per possession in three of them. That’s a vast improvement over their season-long 0.82 PPP average.
Georgia Tech has also been good against the spread with an overall record of 9-5, but it is just 3-3 at home. The Yellow Jackets are once again effective on defense, going 4-10 in the over/under and holding the score under in six of their last seven games.
Pick and Prediction
Duke is quite possibly the best team in the land with one of the most dominant big men in the country. The Yellow Jackets have one of the best post defenders in the nation in James Banks III, but he must stay out of foul trouble.
If Wright can continue his stellar play, it’s easy to see the Jackets covering, but they absolutely must take care of the ball. Even with the return of Alvarado, the Jackets have still averaged 15.2 turnovers in their last five games. Now they have to deal with Jones and Cassius Stanley shooting the gaps and a defense that allows under 0.80 points per possession.
Georgia Tech should be feeling good after the North Carolina win and should keep it close at home. Duke wins straight up, Georgia Tech covers, play the under.