Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Duke Blue Devils Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (16-5 SU, 11-4 ATS) vs. Duke Blue Devils (17-4 SU, 13-7 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, February 4, 2010, Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Georgia Tech +12.5/Duke -12.5
Over/Under: 143

Two teams with a chance to win the ACC title square off at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday night, as the Duke Blue Devils host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Both of these teams have been excellent against the spread this season. Georgia Tech is 11-4 ATS, while Duke is 13-7 ATS. At home, Duke is even better at 11-3 ATS. The Blue Devils are also 12-7 ATS as a favorite. Georgia Tech is 6-2 ATS on the road and 3-1 ATS as an underdog.

When these teams met on January 9 at Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets came away with a 71-67 victory. They grinded it out a victory with strong defense, holding Duke to 6-of-28 shooting from 3-point range. They also out-rebounded Duke, 34-26, and doubled Duke’s free throw attempts, 28-14. Gani Lawal led the way for Georgia Tech with 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds. Mfon Udofia had 13 points and Zachery Peacock had 11 points. Iman Shumpert had a bad game with eight points on 1-of-9 shooting and seven turnovers. Derrick Favors grabbed eight boards but scored only seven points.

For Duke, Jon Scheyer was the only one really scoring. He had 25 points, six assists and only one turnover, but he shot just 3-for-13 on 3-pointers. Mason Plumlee was the only other Duke player to score in double figures with 10 points. Kyle Singler shot 2-for-13 from the field for nine points, Lance Thomas was scoreless, and Brian Zoubek only had four points. No Duke player had more than six rebounds in the game.

Georgia Tech is one of the best defensive teams in the country this season, holding opponents to 36.6 percent shooting from the field overall and 39.5 percent in conference play. The Yellow Jackets are holding opponents to 29 percent shooting on 3-point attempts overall and 28 percent in conference play. For the season, they are forcing 16.5 turnovers per game and out-rebounding teams by five boards per game. Because of their strong defense, the Yellow Jackets haven’t lost a game this season by more than seven points. They lost to Dayton by four, Florida State by seven, Georgia by seven, Virginia by seven and Florida State again by two. Duke is incredible at home, but it’s difficult to say the Blue Devils, who lost to Georgia Tech earlier this season, will beat the Yellow Jackets by at least six more points than they’ve lost by in any of their losses this season.

Georgia Tech is coming off a 98-50 win over Division II Kentucky State on Saturday in a rare late January tune-up game. The Yellow Jackets shot an impressive 71 percent from the field and 9-of-17 from 3-point range. Shooting that well is tough, no matter what the competition is. They forced 23 turnovers and held a 12 rebound advantage. But they did commit 18 turnovers, something that has been a problem all season long. Especially at Cameron Indoor, Duke will take advantage of careless turnovers and turn them into points, so Shumpert has to take care of the ball for Georgia Tech to stay in this game.

Duke is coming off an 89-77 loss at Georgetown on Saturday. The Blue Devils shot 37 percent from the field and allowed Georgetown to shoot 72 percent. They also shot just 9-of-29 from 3-point range, similar to their outside shooting last time they faced Georgia Tech. In conference play, the Blue Devils are shooting 28.6 percent on 3-pointers, while Georgia Tech is shooting 36.1 percent. Nolan Smith scored 19 points in the loss at Georgetown, Kyle Singler had 18 points, and Scheyer had 17, but all three of them shot poorly. They combined to shoot 15-for-43 from the field.

Georgia Tech is 4-0 ATS in its last four games, 7-1 ATS in its last eight games as an underdog, 5-1 in its last six games as a road underdog, and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 road games. Duke is 5-0 ATS in its last five home games and 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games as a favorite. Georgia Tech is 1-5 ATS in its last six games at Duke and 6-15 ATS in its last 21 games overall against Duke. The favorite is 15-5 ATS in the last 20 meetings between these teams and the home team is 6-2 ATS in the last eight. The under is 5-0 in the last five meetings between these teams at Duke and 16-5 in the last 21 overall.

Ryno’s Pick: Duke is very tough at home, but Georgia Tech has incredible defense, which was on display in its win over Duke last time they met. If the Yellow Jackets play defense they way they’ve been playing all season and the way they played when they beat Duke, they have a chance to win this one on the road. Because of their defense, the Yellow Jackets haven’t lost by more than seven points all season long. They already proved they can defeat Duke, so why would they lose by more than 12 points now when it hasn’t happened yet this season? Take Georgia Tech +12.5.