NCAA Basketball Pick: Pittsburgh vs. Georgia Tech

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Pittsburgh has looked impressive in its first ACC season but it will be playing its first game since losing Durand Johnson to a torn ACL when it visits Georgia Tech Tuesday.

One of the newest members of the ACC looks like a genuine threat in March, and now those Pittsburgh Panthers (15-1, 1-0 away) pay a visit to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-6, 8-1 home) Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA at 9:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Pittsburgh as a decided road favorite for this contest with the current line at -7 with odds of -113.

Pittsburgh comes off of a 24-9 season in its last year in the original Big East, a year that ended with disappointment with a second round exit in the NCAA Tournament at the hands of eventual Cinderella team Wichita State, but playing in that rugged conference has apparently prepared the Panthers well for their first season in the ACC, as they are 15-1 with just a one-point loss to their former Big East mates from Cincinnati on a neutral floor in New York.

Georgia Tech on the other hand is a long standing ACC member, but the Yellow Jackets were a bottom tier team while going just 6-12 in conference play last season and things are not really looking any brighter this year despite a 10-6 overall record.

Pittsburgh is now 22nd in the country on the AP poll, but the Panthers grade out considerably higher on the Pomeroy Ratings where they are ranked sixth overall! And they have not even been challenged in the first three conference games of their ACC history, going 3-0 with the closest win being by 12 points on the road at NC State.

The Panthers grade out highly on Pomeroy because that have done everything well, ranking 15th in the country in offensive efficiency and 16th in defensive efficiency. They have a good 52.8 percent effective field goal percentage and do not turn the ball over much at 15.2 percent of the time vs. a national average of 18.5 percent. At the same time, their defense is yielding just a 44.3 percent effective field goal percentage and turning teams over 19.4 percent of the time.

The one bit of bad news for Pittsburgh is that it lost forward Durand Johnson to a torn ACL during an easy 80-65 win over Wake Forest on Saturday. Johnson has been a solid contributor across the stat sheet, but he has not even been starting as of late and it is not as if his 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists cannot be made up for elsewhere.

Georgia Tech sat at 9-4 at the end of the non-conference portion of its schedule, but keep in mind that the Yellow Jackets faced a ridiculously weak non-conference slate ranked a dismal 328th in the nation in SOS. Reality set in once ACC play started as the Jackets started 0-2 until a five-point home win over Notre Dame on Saturday. Pittsburgh represents a big jump in class from a Fighting Irish team ranked 77th on Pomeroy.

Thus, Georgia Tech is ranked just 123rd overall and it has struggled offensively all season despite the easy early schedule, ranking 204th in offensive efficiency, 219th in effective field goal percentage and 182nd in offensive turnover percentage. We simply do not see how the Yellow Jackets will generate many points with that offense vs. a solid defense like Pittsburgh possesses.

With this in mind, look for Pittsburgh to win comfortably here even playing on the road at Georgia Tech on Tuesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Pittsburgh -7 (-113)