SEC-ACC Intrastate Rivalries Top NCAA Hoops Card Tuesday

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 1:38 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 1:38 PM UTC

A pair of SEC-ACC intrastate rivalries features in our top college hoops picks Tuesday. Get your predictions and previews for South Carolina at Clemson, and Georgia Tech at Georgia here.

South Carolina at Clemson (-7)

South Carolina (8-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) travels Upstate to Littlejohn Coliseum to take on Clemson in the 168th meeting between the two programs. One trend dominates the series recently: few points. The ‘under’ is 9-2 since 2006, the final score (131.5) staying 3.6 points shy of a 135.1 average total.

Head coach Frank Martin is often recognized for his ball denial pressure defense, but the Gamecocks’ offense is on point thus far. Their 74.9 points per game are the second most through the first 10 games since Martin took over in 2012. The squad is led by junior forward Chris Silva with 13.7 points per game. Two others put up double figures: grad transfer Frank Booker (11.4 ppg) and freshman Justin Minaya (10.8 ppg).

Clemson (9-1 SU, 5-2 SEC) is off to its best regular season start since 2008-09, most recently topping No. 22 Florida 71-69 at a neutral court last Saturday. The team is led by junior forward Elijah Thomas, one of 13 players in the nation to average 12.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.75 blocks per game.

The Tigers’ SEC matchups in head coach Brad Brownell’s tenure have proven grind-it-out affairs. The ‘under’ is 13-2 overall with both teams combining for just 80.6 percent shooting from the floor. The interesting fact here is that Brownell has made defense the top priority this year in an effort to earn a NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2011. He’s worked tirelessly on improving man-to-man coverage and even employs a full-court press on occasion. Defense will rule in this one. Both teams struggle to find their shooting touch. The combined score stays in the 120s.

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 136.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Georgia Tech at Georgia (-4)

Georgia Tech (5-4 SU, 3-3 ATS) has Josh Okogie, last year’s leading scorer, back in the lineup after missing eight games to suspension and a dislocated finger. The sophomore guard dropped 19 points in a 79-53 win over Florida A&M on Sunday. This is great news for a Yellow Jackets team finding it difficult to put up points. They rank 213th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, scoring just 102.2 points per 100 possessions.

Georgia (7-2 SU, 2-4 ATS), meanwhile, enters matching its best start ever under head coach Mark Fox. The victories are impressive with three coming against NCAA Tournament teams from last year: No. 21 St. Mary’s, Marquette and Winthrop. The team is led by NBA prospect and National Player of the Year candidate Yante Maten. The 6-foot-8 forward nearly averages a double-double with 18.7 points and 9.3 boards per game.

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About 24 hours away from tipoff against GT. Last time the Dawgs played in #theSteg two weeks ago we saw this...#CommitToTheG

— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) December 19, 2017

Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner experimented quickening the pace last time out. The second-year coach believed the team played too deliberately prior, and is encouraging his players to press extra on defense and push more on offense. “I would prefer to play faster, and when Josh went down ... I changed how we played, and played probably a little slower,” Pastner divulged on Monday. “It got us wins, [against] Northwestern and gave us a chance against UCLA, but it also cost us games.”

Look for Georgia Tech to continue to play faster. The betting market will need time to catch up. This basketball version of Clean Old-Fashion Hate will go well ‘over’ a 128 game total.

Free NCAAB Pick: Over 128Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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