February 24, 2021

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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at #16 Virginia Tech Hokies – Preview & Best Bets 2/23/21

Spread: Virginia Tech -3.5

O/U: 135.5

6:00pm Central – Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Virginia

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-8, 7-6)

Last three trends: 2-1 overall in last three games; 1-2 overall in last three road games

Season ATS & O/U Road Splits: 4-3 road ATS; 4-2-1 over/under on the road

Last three ATS & O/U Trends: 3-0 ATS in their last three; 2-1 O/U in their last three

Three Key Factors

  1. Time’s Running Out: Georgia Tech has been so close to adding a signature road win to their resume (they already have a home win against Florida State) over the past month, but they’ve come up just shy in 2-point losses at Virginia and at Clemson. On the season, GT has just one Quad-1 win (the FSU game), and their record in Quad-1 games is 1-6 at the moment (that could change in the future due to shifts in NET Rankings). Tonight marks the last opportunity in the regular season for the Yellow Jackets to pick up a Quad-1 win, and this team desperately needs it to get back into the bubble conversation.
  2. Building Momentum on the Road: The Jackets got their first ACC road win of the conference season (and just second road win overall) this past weekend when they destroyed Miami by a final of 87-60 in Coral Gables. Tech actually led by 36 at one point (64-28 with about 13:30 to go in the second half) before taking their foot off the gas during the final 10+ minutes of play. The Jackets put up their best half in an ACC game this season on both sides of the ball (highest offensive output, lowest points against) in the first half, after which they led the Hurricanes 48-18. Now that they’ve gotten the monkey off their back on the road, can GT carry the momentum from their most recent performance into tonight’s road contest in Blacksburg?
  3. Whaddaya Know, Mike Devoe?: The Georgia Tech junior guard has been inconsistent all season long, but when he’s on, he’s on. As the Yellow Jackets’ best spot-up shooter from behind the arc, Devoe (14.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 41.7% 3PT FG%) can stretch the defense and help take pressure off leading scorers and seniors Jose Alvarado (16.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 2.8 STL) and Moses Wright (16.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG). And, when Alvarado and Devoe each score in double figures, the Yellow Jackets are 8-1 (6-0 in the ACC). But, when things are bad, Tech stands little chance. In critical road losses at Virginia and Duke, as well as a home loss to Virginia, Devoe has put up 3, 4, and 2 points, respectively. For Tech to have a chance, they need Devoe to look like he did this past weekend at Miami, when he put up 29 points on 7-11 from downtown and 11-16 (68.8%) shooting overall.

#16 Virginia Tech Hokies (14-4, 8-3)

Last three trends: 2-1 overall in last three games; 3-0 overall in last three home games

Season ATS & O/U Home Splits: 6-4-0 home ATS; 5-4-1 over/under at home

Last three ATS & O/U Trends: 1-2 ATS in their last three; 2-1 O/U in their last three

Three Key Factors

  1. Another COVID Pause Return Game: Virginia Tech enters tonight’s battle of the Tech’s coming off of a COVID pause that has kept them out of action since a February 6 overtime win at Miami—the same Miami team that Georgia Tech just beat by 27 on the road this past weekend. Playing the transitive property is never wise, especially in the ACC this season (through the transitive property, every team could have beaten every other team in the conference). But, it’s an interesting data point. Another interesting data point comes from Evan Miyakawa, who finds that the disadvantage for a team coming off of a 14-day COVID hiatus is typically around ~1 point. Obviously, there has been a lot of variance in terms of performance coming off of returns from COVID issues, but, on average, the effects of the pauses have been negative on teams in their first game back. Look no further than Louisville, a team that has suffered two COVID pauses this season and has returned to action with 85-48 and 99-54 losses at Wisconsin and at UNC, respectively. At least Virginia Tech gets to play at home tonight, where they’re 9-1 overall and 5-0 in the ACC.
  2. Radford’s Status?: Rumors are swirling that sophomore guard and second-leading scorer Tyrece Radford (11.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 APG) will return to the lineup tonight after serving a nearly one month suspension for being arrested for DUI and a concealed weapon. He was found guilty in early February of the DUI and had the weapon charge put under advisement for a year. Now, Head Coach Mike Young sounds like he may be pulling out all the stops for tonight’s game by reinstating Radford into the lineup. Due to the Hokies’ recent COVID pause, Radford only missed four games due to the suspension, despite it lasting almost a full month. While not the leading scorer for the Hokies, Radford is frequently labeled as the heart and soul of the team, and his presence in the lineup tonight should be a huge boost for this Hokies team.
  3. Attacking Tech’s Defense: The Yellow Jackets frequently play a 1-3-1 zone that can morph into a 2-3 matchup zone at times. In that defense, they hunt turnovers but become susceptible to giving up wide open threes, particularly in the corners. VT has done a good job of not turning the ball over on offense this season (17.2% turnover rate, 79th in the country), and like any Mike Young coached team, they love to shoot the three. 42.1% of the Hokies field goal attempts have come from behind the arc, which ranks them 58th in the nation in that stat. However, they only shoot 34.3% from deep, 143rd in the country. The big question tonight will be whether the Yellow Jackets play zone on defense, which is what worked so well for them this past weekend against Miami. If they do, the Hokies will need sophomore guards Hunter Cattoor (46.6% 3PT FG% on 73 attempts) and Nahiem Alleyne (39.2% 3PT FG% on 74 attempts) to play big minutes and step up on offense to break that zone down. If the Jackets go man, that should open the door to opportunities for leading scorers junior Keve Aluma (15.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG) and Radford to go to work.

Best Bets

A lot of unknowns in tonight’s game with Virginia Tech coming off of a COVID pause and Tyrece Radford potentially reentering the lineup fresh off his suspension. Will Radford be reinserted into the starting lineup? Will he face a minutes restriction or any ill-effects in trying to return to full-speed game competition for the first time in a month? On the other side of the ball, Georgia Tech is fighting for its NCAA Tournament hopes and has looked pretty good doing it over the past two weeks (the losses to Virginia and Clemson were both close games, with the Clemson defeat coming on a banked-in three with one second left by the Tigers). I think the Hokies win tonight’s game by a razor-thin margin, but I’m taking the points. I also like the under, as Cassell Coliseum has been a tough place for visitors to play and both teams rank out of the top-200 in pace, according to KenPom. Take Georgia Tech +3.5 (-110) AND UNDER 135.5.

Mac is 16-16 on the season. All picks are one unit. A $100 bettor has a loss of $146.