Clemson (-1) at Georgia Tech
Clemson ranks eighth in adjusted defensive efficiency (89.7) and, for the first time all season, allowed an opponent to surpass 70 points in their previous game. Virginia handed it to Clemson 85-50, and in the very next game, the Tigers will travel to take on the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech has had off 16 days, the longest in-season break in program history. The Yellow Jackets ripped off four straight wins versus Florida A&M, Delaware State, North Carolina, and Wake Forest before the season was postponed.
Georgia Tech swept the season series last year versus Clemson. Georgia Tech lost four straight to Clemson before that and has gone 3-5 in the last eight meetings SU. A third consecutive win for the Yellow Jackets would be the first time that's happened since 2002-03 through 2004-05.
Georgia Tech isn't at full-strength and we know they will have at least eight players ready to go, but what scares me is Clemson plays 12-deep. One of the Tigers' season mottos is "We Too Deep." At some point, I expect Clemson's defense to be a little too suffocating and limit Georgia Tech's runs.
How Clemson comes out offensively will the story here. The 50 points against Virginia was the lowest of the season. Clemson is 3-0 on neutral courts and 1-1 on the road with a six-point loss to Virginia Tech. Clemson is 1-4-1 ATS in their last six, but 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games versus a team with a winning percentage above .600.
Georgia Tech is 1-4 ATS in their last five games as a home favorite and only played one top 100 team in that span (North Carolina). Georgia Tech is 5-2 at home but lost their first two home games to Georgia State and Mercer before winning five straight. Clemson had four straight wins before the Virginia game and nine out of 10 games to start the season.
Tech has only beaten two top 100 teams at home, Kentucky and North Carolina. Give them when credit is due, but any other year those two wins would be much more impressive. Clemson and Tech only have one common opponent this year, and that's Florida State. Clemson won 77-67 at home and Tech lost 74-61 on the road.
This will be a true test for Clemson but limiting Georgia Tech out of the gate to avoid a Florida State-like situation is critical. With Georgia Tech not at full-strength, I'll ride with the Tigers off an embarrassing loss to Virginia to get back on track. I grabbed this at -104 after it went from +110 overnight. I would play the ML up to -130 if it gets there.
Game Pick: Clemson ML (1u)
Kentucky (-3.5) at Georgia
I am probably one of the only people in the world that can say I haven't bet on either team this year as I've just sat back and watched both programs crumble. Kentucky isn't what they used to be, holding a 4-8 overall record on the year. Georgia is 1-4 in the SEC despite being disguised as an 8-4 team.
This matchup provides a couple of different trends and stats that could sway you but none more than Kentucky's 14-game winning streak over Georgia. That caused the -2 spread to grow to -3.5 within hours as bettors woke up. I can't deny that's a trend worth following or at least throwing something on, but I'm looking at the Over.
Kentucky has struggled to score this season, 62.0 points per game in their last two and 71.0 in the previous five -- all five in the SEC. With that being so well known in Lexington, John Calipari decided to tweak his lineup for some more offensive production ahead of this Georgia matchup. Calipari noted he has lineups that defend well but only scores 0.5 points per possession instead of another lineup he'd like to play more that averages 1.37. Interesting.
Georgia, on the other hand, has added K.D. Johnson who's coming in and made his presence felt through two games. Johnson's first game was a 21-point and 14-rebound effort in addition to four steals, two blocks and two assists in 29 minutes.
In his second game, he had 14 points and two steals in 22 minutes and will certainly get an increase in minutes versus Kentucky. Georgia has scored 77 and 78 points in the two games with him and in SEC play, the Bulldogs average 77.8 points per game.
The Over has hit in five straight games for Georgia, while Kentucky has seen the Under hit in four of the previous five. Kentucky's lineup change should boost their scoring chances in this matchup, and the 14-game winning streak is something they're not looking to let go. The Wildcats also sit 3-2 in the SEC, tied-fourth, losing two after winning three straight in the conference.
I could also see fouling be an impact as both teams are young and average 18.2 and 18.8 fouls per game. Georgia plays at the eighth-fastest adjusted tempo in the country (75.2) and the 15th-quickest average length of possession (15.1). Expect that to continue versus a Kentucky squad looking for more points, not to stop them.
This could be the year Georgia upsets Kentucky, but if the Wildcats come out victorious, it'll be credited to Calipari's lineup change and the offensive production it brought. Either way, I expect both teams to hit the 70-mark as the last two meetings combined for 147 and 168 points.
Game Pick: Over 145.5 (1u)
Providence at Creighton (-10.5)
Creighton has won four of the last five meetings between these two programs, and surely the Blue Jays will open up as -6 point favorites or higher. Providence is playing the third of four consecutive road games, and they are 1-3 overall in their four.
Shots have not been able to drop for the Friars, going 48% (37-77) from three-point land in those games. Providence is playing at a slow pace, too, 301st in adjusted tempo (66.4) compared to Creighton's 122nd ranked mark (70.2).
Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley is 10-9 mark all-time versus Creighton and lost the last three in a row in Omaha, Nebraska. Creighton is 7-1 at home this season, with the only loss to Marquette. Providence has lost three straight games overall and three straight road matches headed into the second meeting of the season.
Creighton barely escaped 67-65 in the first meeting up in Rhode Island on a last-second bucket. Providence out-rebounded Creighton 45-35 in that game, and that's what kept them in it. This time around, Creighton has had two blowout wins since then and a four-point loss in OT last time out.
I expect Creighton to get back in the win column, but don't count this Providence team out around March. They'll quietly get better as all six losses are against impressive squads. With the spread such large -10, and only two meetings finished more than 10 points in the last six meetings, I lean Providence but aren't willing to commit. This could be the trickiest game of the evening. A Creighton 12 or 13-point win would come to no surprise to me but Providence has the talent to keep this single-digits for the third straight time in Omaha, Nebraska.
Game Lean: Providence +10.5 (0u - no bet)