There are just two games left to play in the ultra competitive ACC and plenty left to play for, in particular the battle for byes in the upcoming tournament. As the final weekend of the regular season draw near, the 19th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels travel to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for Tuesday night basketball.
The Tar Heels endured something of an up and down February in ACC play beating Boston College, Georgia Tech and Miami (FL), but losing to Virginia, Pittsburgh, Duke and NC State. This team has proven that they are going to be a tough matchup in the NCAA tournament – see their national spotlight overtime game against Duke, but they’ve also played erratically enough to suggest that they are candidates to get upset – see last week’s game against the Wolfpack.
There’s a few good pieces on this North Carolina roster, but they tend to go as junior guard Marcus Paige goes. He scored 17 points in the weekend victory against the Hurricanes, but managed just seven and just shot just 3-8 from the field in defeat against NC State. Head coach Roy Williams will be hoping for a replica performance Feb 21 when Paige scored 13 points and also picked up 10 assists to lead an 89-point team explosion over Georgia Tech.
It’s been a tough year for the Yellow Jackets. A team that started with the season with expectations of competitiveness went 9-3 in non-conference play has since dropped to 3-14 in ACC play. Their only route to March Madness is a miraculous surge through the conference tournament. Yet, there have been signs all season long that Georgia Tech is a competitive team. They took the Fighting Irish to double overtime (in Notre Dame), they then lost by just three points to the same opposition on their home court. They almost caused upsets losing by one point in overtime to the Wolfpack and just last week they almost shocked Louisville eventually losing 52-51.
They’ve also got a player in Marcus Georges-Hunt who is difficult to stop. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He’s averaging more than 15 points per game in his last five contests. Highly athletic and recently part of a select club of Georgia Tech players who have scored 1,000 points for the school, Georges-Hunt could declare for the NBA draft this spring making this his final regular season game for GT.
Betting Preview: North Carolina (-.5.5) at Georgia Tech
There’s always a degree of risk in grabbing the six point underdog, even when they are at home, when they hold a 3-14 record in ACC play, and when this game matters to North Carolina. However, we expect that the Tar Heels will have one eye on their impending weekend showdown with Duke. As bad as the Yellow Jackets have been and as disappointing as the 2014/15 season is, they haven’t been beaten by more than three points on their home court in ACC play and that includes contests against Louisville and Notre Dame. Maybe they’re tougher than their record suggests.
The Pick: Georgia Tech (+5.5) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 29-23