NCAA Basketball Picks for Duke vs. Georgia Tech

David Lawrence

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:51 PM GMT

The Duke Blue Devils have two really big games coming up later this week. Will they look ahead to those two games and ignore the ACC contest in front of them in Atlanta?

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The Blue Devils can win because…

They are simply far better than their opponent. Georgia Tech is slogging through a depressing, unfulfilled season replete with late-game collapses and subpar shooting performances. The Yellow Jackets aren’t going to play in any postseason tournament. The NIT isn’t even a possibility at this point, a substantial point of humiliation for a program that played in the national championship game against Connecticut in 2004.

Duke has transcended its conference for the most part, as it often does from season to season. The Blue Devils have overcome some early-January missteps and have become a much more airtight team, especially at the defensive end of the floor. Duke doesn’t lose focus in road games these days. The Blue Devils have made adjustments in terms of both tactics and mindset, and they can spread the floor with shooters to the extent that Georgia Tech can’t merely key on stopping Jabari Parker. Duke is more than just its best player, and moreover, Parker can draw so much attention that his teammates will get great looks.

NCAA Tournament Betting: Last Four Teams In

The Yellow Jackets can win because…

They're in a position to spring an ambush. Georgia Tech might be drifting through a season that’s not measuring up, but the Yellow Jackets are going to view Duke as the focus of their season, or more precisely, what’s left of it. These kinds of situations in college basketball aren’t cut and dry. We see big upsets throughout the course of the season, not just in March. One team is tired or distracted, and another grossly inferior team rises up on one night and plays with a maximum of energy and intensity.

When you look at the potential for an upset in this game, you need to realize that Duke’s game with North Carolina – originally scheduled for February 12th – has been rescheduled for this upcoming Thursday. Duke plays North Carolina on the 20th and then Syracuse on Saturday. The Blue Devils might therefore treat this Georgia Tech game as a speed bump, something to just get out of the way and not spend much time on. Duke could very easily look ahead and trip up.

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Outlook & Pick

Yes, the possibility of Duke not devoting sufficient mental attention to this game is real, but Georgia Tech is such a weak opponent that the Blue Devils won’t be threatened straight up. However, Duke might not cover for our college basketball picks.

College Basketball Pick: Georgia Tech +11