Duke’s Matthew Hurt (21) celebrates after a big play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. Duke won 75-65. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
- The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (13-8, 9-6 ACC) host the Duke Blue Devils (11-9, 9-7 ACC) Tuesday, March 2
- The Ramblin’ Wreck have won four straight and the Blue Devils have won four of five
- Read below for odds, analysis, and best bet for this matchup
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (13-8, 9-6 ACC), winners of four in a row, host the Duke Blue Devils (11-9, 9-7 ACC) Tuesday, March 2 in Atlanta. Tip is set for 8:00 pm ET at McCamish Pavilion.
With Duke in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995, the Devils are ‘dogs in the ATL.
Duke vs Georgia Tech Odds
|Duke||+1.5 (-110)||TBD||Ov 145.5 (-110)|
|Georgia Tech||-1.5 (-110)||TBD||Un 145.5 (-110)|
Odds as of March 1 at FanDuel.
Duke sophomore Matthew Hurt scored a career-high 37 points — tying Grayson Allen’s mark set in 2017 for the most points by a Blue Devils player in the last 15 seasons — but it wasn’t enough as Coach K’s club lost to Louisville 80-73 in overtime Saturday. The loss snapped a four-game win streak.
Speaking of four-game win streaks, Josh Pastner’s Georgia Tech team is riding one following an 84-77 win against Syracuse. Moses Wright had a monster game for the Yellow Jackets, finishing with 31 in the big win.
On the Clock
Following a pair of three-game conference losing skids that put Duke’s NCAA Tournament hopes this season very much in doubt, the Blue Devils had battled back to win four in a row entering its contest with the Cardinals. And after a stirring rally from 12 points down against UL, Duke was this close to a fifth straight victory.
Alas, an ill-timed defensive lapse and rebounding issue coast Coach K’s club.
Duke was only 4-of-21 from distance against Louisville and was outrebounded 41-33 — including 13 on the offensive end. Those numbers should improve against a Georgia Tech club that ranks 304th in the country in three-point percentage defensively (allowing 36.9-percent) and isn’t particularly robust in offensive-rebounding percentage defensively (ranking 244th at 29.7-percent).
No, the bigger issue is the Devils’ mental state.
“I felt like we kind of played that way (complacent) in the first half. We won a couple games and we were happy with ourselves.” – Wendell Moore
— Brian McLawhorn (@BrianRIVALS) February 28, 2021
The sophomore forward’s words are certainly concerning — but speak to the team’s psyche and possible lack of maturity. This year’s squad simply doesn’t have those non-conference wins stacked up to help its case it normally does and has little margin for error . Not being prepared for an always dangerous Chris Mack-coached team is inexcusable.
You can bet Krzyzewski has his team focused for the Yellow Jackets.
Parting the Orange Sea
These are heady times on The Flats. Thanks to that seven-point victory over Syracuse, Georgia Tech clinched a winning ACC record for the second year in a row, the first time that has happened since the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons. Of course, Bobby Cremins and Kenny Anderson took the 1990 team all the way to the Final Four. Moses Wright’s performance Saturday was a big reason why.
The senior forward recorded his third-straight double-double with 31 points and 16 rebounds in the win and is clearly in a groove. He’s putting up numbers the likes of which are not very common in the ACC’s storied history.
ACC players in the last 25 years who have averaged 17 ppg/8 rpg/2 apg in a season:
Matt Harpring (2x)
Tim Duncan (2x)
Moses Wright currently: 17.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.2 apg
— Andy Demetra 😷 (@AndyDemetra) March 1, 2021
Will his hot run continue Tuesday against Duke? The Blue Devils were able to somewhat neutralize him in a 75-68 victory at Cameron Indoor Jan. 26. Wright was held to just 12 points — but did put up team highs in grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out six assists. Defending him in similar fashion will be a challenge.
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
Hurt So Good
Duke has a dynamic offensive player on their side, too. Matthew Hurt enters Tuesday’s affair averaging 24.0 points over his last five contests, including that 37-point explosion against UL. Along with Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Hurt is the only player in college hoops this season to shoot 56-percent or better from the field and 46-percent or better from beyond the arc while making at least six field goals per game.
Chris Mack: “What a game! I thought our guys battled. Matthew Hurt is a special player, we tried everybody on him, he’s one of the best players in the country, but we’ve got one of the best players in the country. Quin walked out to the floor in OT and said Coach, I gotchu”
— Tayler Lynch (@TaylerLynch) February 28, 2021
Then, there’s that whole ownership factor. Duke has won 14 straight against Georgia Tech, its longest active streak over an ACC opponent. And while the Yellow Jackets are 7-1 at home this season, the Blue Devils own a 23-15 mark all-time at McCamish Pavilion.
Wright has been a revelation this season and Pastner has his program playing as consistently good as its been since the Ramblin’ Wreck’s Halcyon Days of the late 80s. But with Duke’s collective backs against the wall — and getting points — I’ll take the Devils down South.
The pick: Duke +1.5 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.