NCAA Basketball – Clemson Tigers (15-3, 9-6 ATS) vs. Georgia Tech Yellowjackets (13-4, 8-4 ATS), Alexander Coliseum, Atlanta, Tuesday, Jan. 19th, 7 PM Eastern, ESPN2
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Yellowjackets -3/Tigers +3
College basketball’s conference schedules are in full swing, and games are becoming key already for teams looking for enough of a resume to make the NCAA tournament. Tuesday night in Atlanta a couple of teams in similar situations hook up when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets host the Clemson Tigers for an ACC match.
As of Tuesday morning most online sportsbooks were lining this game with Tech favored by three points, with a total of 142. The Ramblin’ Wreck is also listed at around -150 on most college basketball betting moneylines, with the Tigers getting +130.
Clemson returned just two starters this season, and took a significant hit in the backcourt. Fortunately, one of those returning starters was F Trevor Booker, the fifth-leading returning scorer in the ACC and the top returning rebounder. The Tigers won their first four games this season, then lost to Texas A&M. Two more wins followed, before Clemson blew a big early lead and lost at home to Illinois 76-74. The Tigers then won six in a row before opening ACC play with a 21-point loss at Duke. But they’ve since won three straight conference games, after picking up a 73-70 victory in Raleigh over NC State Saturday.
Georgia Tech returned four starters this season from a team that went 2-14 in the ACC last season. And they’re already equaled that conference victory total this year. The Wreck started 8-1 this season, then lost an early conference game to Florida State in overtime. They then won three straight, but lost at Georgia. Tech then re-entered ACC play with a win over Duke, but followed that with a loss at Virginia. Last Saturday, though, the Wreck built a 20-point lead over North Carolina at the Dean Dome, blew it, then got a couple of key plays down the stretch and hung on for a 73-71 win over the hated Heels.
So in the early going in the ACC, Clemson, at 3-1, is tied for second place with Duke, a half-game behind 3-0 Virginia, while G Tech, at 2-2, is tied with Florida State and Wake Forest for fifth place.
So far this season Booker ranks ninth in the conference in scoring at 15 PPG and seventh in rebounding at 8.3 RPG.
Jackets G Iman Schumpert missed six games earlier this season after having his knee cut, but he’s back, and scored a career-high 30 points in the win over North Carolina.
On the season Clemson is shooting 48% from the floor as a team, 35% from 3-point land but just 66% from the free-throw line. Defensively the Tigers are holding opponents to 41% FG shooting, and they’re outrebounding foes by 3.5 RPG.
Georgia Tech is shooting 46% from the field this season, 35% from long range and 68% from the line. The Jackets are holding opponents to just 37% FG shooting and are outboarding foes by 8.1 RPG.
These teams met three times last season; Clemson won the two regular-season bouts by scores of 73-59 and 81-73, but G Tech upset the Tigers in the first round of the ACC tournament 86-81. Two of those three games went OVER the posted totals.
On the injury front, Clemson G Demontez Stitt turned an ankle vs. NC State, and his status for Tuesday night is very uncertain.
Both these teams have been fairly kind to their financial backers this season. The Tigers have covered nine of 15 pointspreads, while the Wreck has beaten eight of 12 betting lines.
Clemson is 4-9 on the totals this season, as Tigers games have averaged 140.5 points.
Tech is 5-6 on the totals, as ‘Jackets games have averaged 139 points.
These two teams have played two common opponents so far this season. Clemson lost at Duke 74-53 but beat North Carolina 83-64, while G Tech beat the Blue Devils 71-67 and the Heels 73-71.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rate the Tigers at +3 over the Yellowjackets. So with Sagarin’s updated college basketball home-court advantage figure of 4.1, Georgia Tech is favored by a point over Clemson for Tuesday’s game on the Sagarin line.
Sagarin has also ranked Tech’s schedule as the 42nd-toughest so far this season, while the Tigers have played the 88th-toughest slate.
Z-Man’s Pick: Wrong team favored! Take Clemson plus the points to cover the spread.