Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#793 Virginia 108.5 vs.
#794 Georgia Tech -1
Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 8:00pm EST
Written by Chris Kubala

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#793 University of Virginia
#794 Georgia Institute of Technology
11-5
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It’s a battle of ACC teams on the floor down in Hotlanta. The Virginia Cavaliers are on the road as they travel to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday night. Virginia was defeated 54-50 on the road by #9 Florida State in their last game Wednesday night. Georgia Tech comes in off a 78-74 home loss to Notre Dame in their latest contest Wednesday night. The Cavaliers own a 42-39 edge in the all-time series between the teams and have won the last five meetings, including an 81-51 triumph at home in the most recent matchup on February 27, 2019.

Virginia Cavaliers Hoping to Regain Last Season’s Magic

Virginia won the national title last season under Tony Bennett but also saw three of their key players depart. No longer are Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter out there to make plays on either end of the floor for the Cavaliers. The Virginia system is still the same: a slow pace and grinding out possessions on offense while suffocating the opposition defensively. This season, the problem is trying to figure out where to get the offensive production from. Virginia has yet to put up more than 65 points in a game while being limited to 55 or less on seven occasions. As it stands, the Cavaliers come into this one on a three-game slide where they have scored 53, 55 and 50 points.

The Cavaliers come into this game putting up an average of 55.3 points a game this season, which is 351st in the nation. Virginia grabs 35.1 boards a night while dishing out an average of 11 assists per contest. The Cavaliers are stifling defensively: they enter this contest #1 in the nation in scoring defense by allowing a measly 49 points per game. Mamadi Diakite is the team’s leading scorer as he puts up 13.1 points plus 6.8 rebounds per game this season. Braxton Key (10.4 points, 7.2 rebounds) and Kihei Clark (10 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists) are solid secondary options. Jay Huff, Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae and Kody Stattman all log key minutes for Tony Bennett’s squad. The Cavaliers shoot 40.2 percent from the field as a team on the year. Virginia connects on 5.2 triples per game this season while sinking a dismal 26.6 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers have been average at the charity stripe, hitting 71.4 percent at the line so far this season.

According to KenPom, no one takes the air out of the ball more than the Cavaliers, who are dead last in the nation in tempo with 59.5 possessions per game. Virginia holds the ball the second-longest per possession (21 seconds) in the nation. The Cavaliers are just 321st in effective field goal percentage (45.2 percent) and 347th in three-point shooting. Those poor numbers are tough for even Virginia’s herculean defense (second in defensive efficiency) to overcome. The Cavaliers are third in effective field goal percentage defense (41.4 percent), fifth in two-point field goal percentage defense (40.6 percent) and 15th in three-point field goal percentage defense (28.2 percent) this season.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Seek to Even Record

Georgia Tech has had a weird season when you look at it in its entirety. The Yellow Jackets opened the season with back to back wins, which they immediately followed with back to back losses. Georgia Tech then won two straight only to drop three in a row, including an 18-point home loss to Ball State. Since that point, the Yellow Jackets have alternated wins and losses in their last eight, including a win over North Carolina at home sandwiched between a road loss at Florida State and a home defeat to Duke. If the pattern holds, Georgia Tech would win here and return to .500 on the season. Then again, with the way the season has gone, why would we expect a pattern to stay true to form?

The Yellow Jackets put up an average of 67.9 points per game offensively, putting them 271st in the nation, which is why the team has struggled this season. Georgia Tech pulls down 35.6 rebounds per contest while dishing out 13.2 assists per game. The Yellow Jackets are 154th in the nation in scoring defense as they give up just 67.9 points per game this season. Michael Devoe leads the team with 16.5 points per game on the season. Moses Wright (13.8 points, eight rebounds) and Jose Alvarado (10.4 points, 5.3 assists) each average in double figures for coach Josh Pastner. James Banks III (10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds), Jordan Usher, Bubba Parham, Evan Cole and Khalid Moore each average at least 3.6 points per game on the year. Georgia Tech shoots 44.6 percent from the floor as a team this season. The Yellow Jackets shoot 28.9 percent from beyond the arc as the team knocks down an average of 4.9 three pointers per game. Georgia Tech is slumping at the charity stripe as they shoot 65.9 percent as a team this season.

According to KenPom, Georgia Tech has done a solid job on the defensive end of the floor. The Yellow Jackets are 90th in the nation in defensive efficiency on the season. Georgia Tech is a stellar 33rd in effective field goal percentage defense (44.7 percent), 78th in three-point field goal percentage defense (30.9 percent) and 38th in two-point field goal percentage defense (44 percent) this season. For good measure, the Yellow Jackets are 46th in block percentage (12.6 percent) on the year. Georgia Tech will push the pace as they are 101st in tempo with an average of 70.3 possessions a night.

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This is the classic example of a rock fight as both teams are excellent on the defensive end of the floor and in need of some work offensively. Virginia’s defense has been even better than last year’s team, which is saying something considering the way that team defended en route to the national title. With that said, there’s almost no offense to speak of as the numbers clearly bear out. Georgia Tech is better offensively but that’s not an overwhelming vote of confidence by any stretch of the imagination. The Yellow Jackets are at home but the Cavaliers have the mystique of being the defending champs. Bennett finds a way to conjure up enough offense from his team to steal one here.

Prediction: Virginia Cavaliers +1

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We've discussed how good the defenses in this game are and how mediocre, at best, the offensive attacks are. Virginia has won 11 games this season despite not going over 65 points. That's pretty impressive as there aren't many teams that could pull off anything close to that mark. Georgia Tech isn't great offensively but they average more than 12 points a game more than the Cavaliers. Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they face a Virginia team that leads the nation in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense (34.8 percent) and is 20th in three-point field goal percentage defense (28.2 percent) this season. That makes points at a premium. We might not see either team hit 60 in this one. Lean on the under here.

Prediction: Under 112
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.