Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET (ACCN)
Free NCAAB Pick: Under
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Point guard Jose Alvarado is the heart and soul of Georgia Tech’s offense. He makes things happen off the dribble, behind the arc, and as a distributor. He easily takes the highest rate of shots and is involved in the greatest rate of possessions on his team. Without him, Georgia Tech scored 16 points in the first half against Louisville after which the game was already decided. Alvarado has been downgraded to “doubtful” for Tuesday’s matinee.
If Alvarado is absent, I recommend betting on an eighth straight “under” between these teams because the Jackets would struggle to generate offense. His replacement Michael Devoe was intended to be a shooting guard. It’s hard for a shooting guard to shoot well when making the switch to point guard because playing the point takes a lot out of his legs. Devoe, though, is lengthy and ranks 116th in steal rate, just ahead of Alvarado.
If Alvarado plays, his creativity will help the Jackets score. He ranks 356th in assist rate and is well-versed in Coach Pastner’s offense, finding the open shooter or hitting a player cutting to the basket. The main beneficiaries of Alvarado’s distribution will be the bigs. James Banks is hard to stop with his strength and physicality. While nobody else produced, he scored 24 points on Saturday against Lousiville. In the conference, GT has the fourth-highest efficiency inside the arc and the second-highest assist-to-field-goal rate. Notre Dame will miss its top interior defender Juwan Durham. Without him, the Jackets can control the paint where the Irish lack depth and miss Durham’s shot-blocking ability. Durham had nine blocks in three ACC games.
The Jackets are well-coached and have one of the ACC’s best defenses in terms of efficiency. Coach Pastner has them working hard, playing together, well-organized. They are quick to rotate and to help each other out, keeping the ball in front of them and denying easy driving and passing lanes. As a result, they get many steals and rank top-five in the conference in opposing two-point and three-point percentage.
The Irish tend to be very patient on offense. But, as a young team, they still force up shots. They attempt the highest rate of threes in the conference, although they rank ninth in the conference in three-point efficiency. Their top player inside, John Mooney, was ineffective both times in this match-up last year. Notre Dame’s ball-handlers struggle with stingy defenses such as Virginia Tech’s who get a lot of steals. They will struggle to establish rhythm. Overall, the Irish lack identity and leadership without “that guy” who the offense flows through.
Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET (SECN)
Free NCAAB Pick: Gators ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Texas A&M matches up poorly against the Gators. The Aggies rely heavily on inside soring. Point guard T.J. Stark is by far their primary shooter. But in his past three games, he’s 6-for-23 inside the arc. Florida provides a stiff test with its plethora of interior defenders–even with power forward Keith Stones injured – who like to help each other defend the post. 6″9 center Kevarrius Hayes leads the group, ranking 23rd in block rate. As a team, they prevent easy passing lanes with their length and quickness. With active hands, they rank 12th in steal rate.
On Saturday, they responded to coach Michael White’s challenge to finish strong and Georgia finished 12-for-29 (41%) inside the arc. Overall, they rank 51st in opposing two-point percentage despite being tested inside by the likes of Michigan State and Tennessee. The Aggies are the SEC’s least-efficient team from three, so they’ll have to find a way inside.
On offense, Florida lives and dies by the three. KeVaughn Allen is heating up in conference play where he’s shooting 45% from three. Noah Locke has been effective the whole year, ranking 222nd in three-point efficiency. As a team, the Gators are streaky and inconsistency is normal for a young team. But, they will find enough strong scoring stretches against an Aggie defense that ranks 11th both in opposing rate of threes attempted and converted. The Aggies don’t cause many turnovers, so Florida will find rhythm.
Texas A&M has lost its last two games by at least 19 points. Florida will make it three for an NCAAB Pick.