NCAA Basketball Picks: Road Dog Worth a Wager in St. John's/Georgetown Big East Battle

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 2:05 PM GMT

Making college basketball picks on either St. John’s or Georgetown is a lot like taking one of those jeep trips in rugged terrain, you are always hanging on, never knowing what to expect.

After stumbling to a 3-5 (2-6 ATS) January, the Red Storm (17-8, 10-11-1 ATS) has started find its way this month and has won three in a row. In typical Hoyas fashion of late, which is becoming all too familiar to college basketball handicappers and those researching the NCAA basketball odds, Georgetown (16-8, 9-11-1 ATS) won four in a row in mid-January, lost three of the next four, including two at home and went to Seton Hall last Tuesday and ran the Pirates aground 86-67.

Rest assured, this matchup will not rekindled the rivalry from the John Thompson and Louie Carnesecca days, but take into consideration the sportsbooks point spread and we have real action that adds interest.

 

Coach Deserves Credit for St. John’s Resurgence
Head coach Steve Lavin assessed the Red Storm’s situation which saw St. John’s go from 11-1 and 14-8 in almost five weeks. Lavin maintained he “liked this team”, but they kept finding ways to lose winnable contests. After a major beatdown at Butler by 23 points, Lavin insisted his players needed to play faster to create more open shoots in transition, especially since they had defensive rim protectors that rank fifth in the country in blocked shots at 6.8 per game.

With D’Angelo Harrison (19.1 PPG), Rysheed Jordan (13.9) and Sir’Dominic Pointer (13.0), the Red Storm has gotten much more aggressive to running on every made and missed shot by the opposition and has averaged 82.6 points a contest in winning their past three games. However, this offensive surge has occurred by getting better shots and St. John’s has not shot less than 51.8 percent in the trio of victories by being more aggressive to the tin.

Will the Georgetown defense allow such an outburst? Probably not but Red Storm team would be foolish not to at least challenge them to find out.

Want More NCAA Basketball Action? Check Out This Pic for Tonight's Big Ten Rivalry 

Georgetown Needs To Protect Orange
It was Clark Kellogg who first introduced us to using the term “orange” in referencing a basketball. For coach John Thompson III, whatever you want to call the basketball, how his club values its possessions is in direct correlation to its success.

On the season Georgetown averages roughly 13 turnovers a game. When they commit 13 or fewer miscues, the Hoyas are 11-0 and 8-3 ATS in lined games. However, when G-Town becomes sloppy or careless with the orange they are beatable, very beatable. Once Georgetown hits 14 turnovers or goes higher, they are 2-8 and 1-8-1 ATS this season.

The various guards have all been participants, but who really has hurt the Hoyas are big men Joshua Smith (11.3 PPG) and Mikael Hopkins (4.6), who each play less than 24 minutes a game and are not main ball-handlers, yet average 2.3 and 2.0 turnovers per contest respectively. For the season, St. John’s forces 13 miscues a game and it is evident how they will be attacking Georgetown defensively.

 

What the Numbers Suggest
For this FS-1 Big East battle, the college basketball odds had the Hoyas at -6.5 with a total of 137 on the overnight line. As of this morning the home team is up to -7, yet Georgetown is 4-6 ATS at home despite their 10-3 record and is 3-6 ATS as home court favorites. Off their win over Seton Hall, the Hoyas are 1-7 ATS after a cover this campaign.

The Johnnies are 3-1 SU and ATS as road underdogs and when in D.C., they are 8-4 ATS (3-9 SU) versus Georgetown in the last dozen gatherings.

 

What to Look for and Selection
If St. John’s is to win and possibly cover, they have to attack Georgetown in the half court defense to generate turnovers and look to create transition points immediately. If they let the Hoyas dictate a slower pace, it will be like many of their other eight losses because the Red Storm is only average in the half court offense and weakens considerably when playing defense for more then 20-25 seconds. G-Town has to value each possession and run the shot clock. If they do, they will have several chances for backdoor cuts for layups or wide open shots as the basket.

On defense, take away St. John’s on dribble drives to the basket and win the rebounding battle. The last seven matchups have been one-sided with one club shooting poorly and losing by anywhere from 10 to 25 points. While that is a possibility with each team’s skittish nature, I’ll take the points with St. John’s as one of my college basketball picks since they are playing better and they lose by a basket.

College Basketball Pick: St. John’s +7 at 5Dimes