Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee Basketball Pick
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (2-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
When: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 – 9:00 PM ET
Where: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.
By: Dan Jamison, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GT +16/TENN –16
Total: O/U 139.5
Last Time Out: Georgia Tech defeated Lamar 88-69 on Friday. Tennessee defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 87-65 on Friday.
Analyzing the Yellow Jackets:
Georgia Tech has been one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation under coach Josh Pastner, so he’s trying to go in the opposite direction with a new cast of players. So far, the change seems to be working, as Tech drilled 12 from beyond the arc in their win over Lamar. Leading that charge was guard Jose Alvarado, the main weapon returning from last year’s Georgia Tech team that finished 13-19.
That squad lost over 60 percent of its scoring, as Josh Okogie, Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson have all departed from last season. What’s left is Alvarado and Curtis Haywood, both of whom were out for much of the ACC schedule, and a host of relatively unproven players. The best of these is Brandon Alston, who averaged just over five points a game a season ago. In short, there are a lot of question marks about this Georgia Tech team.
Analyzing the Volunteers:
While Georgia Tech lost plenty from last year’s team, Tennessee did not. Of the six players who averaged more than 20 minutes a game for the Volunteers last season, all six of them are back in orange this year. The leader of the Volunteers is junior forward Grant Williams, the SEC player of the year from 2017-18, but he’s hardly the only option for Tennessee. Guard Admiral Schofield averaged 13.9 points per game last season and guard Lamonte Turner averaged double figures as a sixth man in 2017-18. In short, Tennessee is a deep, talented team.
Georgia Tech guard Shembari Phillips. The junior spent two seasons as a part of Tennessee’s program, and Friday marked the first time he’d played since leaving the Volunteers. How well he handles a return to his old school will play a major role in whether the Yellow Jackets can stay in the contest.
Georgia Tech Will Cover if:
The Yellow Jackets can get Alvarado going and keep him hot throughout the contest. As the only one of Georgia Tech’s top four scorers from a year ago who’s back this season, he’s the engine that makes the Yellow Jackets flow. He’s going to have to be at his best for Georgia Tech to have much chance of staring down Tennessee and giving the Vols a real challenge.
Tennessee Will Cover if:
The Volunteers play to their talent level and don’t let Georgia Tech get comfortable. Tennessee is an excellent, experienced team that will be a challenge for anyone in the country, and it shouldn’t have many issues with a young Georgia Tech squad. As long as the Volunteers don’t start slowly or declare victory too soon, they shouldn’t have a lot of trouble with this spread.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Under Pastner, Georgia Tech has been a bit of a home-court hero. The Yellow Jackets have had some solid wins in Atlanta, but the only win they got on the road last year was against Pittsburgh, which didn’t beat anyone in the ACC last year. Overall, the Yellow Jackets were 1-10 away from their campus a season ago.
This game probably won’t be as close for two main reasons. First, the Volunteers are a more experienced squad than they were a season ago and have the talent to match. Second, this is Georgia Tech’s first test in a true road environment, and when a team has as little experience as the Yellow Jackets do, that situation doesn’t tend to go particularly well.
There’s no need to overthink this one. Georgia Tech wasn’t a good road team before losing three of its four best players, and that probably hasn’t changed with this new group of players. On the other side of the court, Tennessee is ranked fifth in the nation and even received a first-place vote this week in the AP poll. That didn’t happen by accident.
The point spread is high for a game between two Power 6 schools, but the gulf in talent is pretty wide between a team that’s picked no lower than second in the SEC and a team that’s picked second-to-last in the ACC. Throw in that the Volunteers are at home, and you’d have to get pretty creative to find a reason to take Tech here. I’m not that creative. Give me Tennessee.