Two high seeds with something to prove meet in a South Region round of 32 matchup. The Utah Utes and Georgetown Hoyas each survived that initial test, but now each team has work to do if they are going to earn a rare place in the second weekend of the March Madness basketball tournament.
The Hoyas have all too often played the role of upset victim in past seasons. It’s apparent by the manner of the current group that something about that situation is starting to get to them. They want to write a different story line in 2015.
They beat Eastern Washington 84-74 as a part of a relatively unspectacular Friday for the NCAA tournament. Still – as always – the talent that head coach John Thompson III has is to be highly-respected. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is a guard to be respected, while Jabili Trawick and Joshua Smith are pretty good supporting players. The team’s defense is questionable at times and their offense has been too erratic too often. However, this is still a good basketball team and not one to be under-estimated.
After a period of not reaching the NCAA tournament very frequently, the Utes are looking to re-establish their basketball program. This season’s team has been built around a senior guard in Delon Wright and a highly talented freshman forward Jakob Poelti.
Wright is the player who runs the offense and leads the team, but it is Poelti who has the explosiveness. Utah had a tricky first round matchup against Stephen F. Austin and it was Poelti’s 18 points, eight rebounds and five blocks that stood out as a difference maker in that contest.
The Utes are actually a pretty balanced team overall. They have a strong defensive set up and can score points (mainly through their top two players). This team lost some strange games throughout the season, but they earned a four-seed on the back of some strong displays. They gave Arizona a pretty good game of basketball back in February.
Betting Preview: Utah (-4) v Georgetown
The Hoyas feel like a team that is a little overdependent on one player. Their offense doesn’t matchup well against the Utes, their defense isn’t strong at the best of times and this is a matchup where they might just lose too many of the little, but important battles. Don’t expect a blowout, but Utah are a solid bet to cover the spread in this instance.
The Pick: Utah (-4) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 34-28
Georgetown Hoyas • Jakob Poelti • John Thompson III • March Madness 2015 • Utah Utes